The Power of Renewable Community Energy
Community Energy is becoming a more and more present public topic. An EUKI project with Friends of the Earth Europe brought together stakeholders to highlight the growing importance of community energy and to make this approach more prominent in the CEE region. For three days, from the 12th to the 14th of November, the participants debated on how to unleash the power of community renewable energy. The event took place in Budapest, Hungary.
The first day was all about connecting with the partners within the project, to discuss the milestones and possible ways to disseminate the results. Furthermore, interconnections or possibilities for cooperation with other initiatives have been elaborated. After the first day of internal project discussions, the second day was devoted to capacity building with other organisations involved in promoting community energy. The participants were from Hungary, Spain, Austria, Scotland, Czech Republic and Germany. Presented initiatives included Bürgerenergie and ourpower.
Legal input came from Josh Roberts of RESCoop.eu, a lawyer specialising in provisions related to community and citizen energy ownership of renewable energy. Mr. Roberts guided the attendees through the two key processes, the transposition of the new Renewable Energy Directive at the national level, and the development of National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) by national governments. The Renewable Energy Directive sets a new direction for people’s ownership of energy.
On the third day, NSC-FoE Hungary and Friends of the Earth Europe organised a public forum for mainly Hungarian stakeholders. The forum focused on key challenges and solutions for community energy and on the needed changes in domestic regulations, in policy measures, in energy market and support system, in order to ensure the new rights and a fair development for citizens’ renewable energy communities (RECs) in Hungary and in Europe as part of the transposition of the EU legislation. The list of participants included energy ministry (ITM) representatives, local government and municipality associations, energy authorities, energy institutions and experts, renewable energy business associations and SMEs, energy suppliers, energy NGOs, renewable energy prosumers and (engaged) communities.
Speakers shared their community energy experiences and gave concrete recommendations. These included clear, inclusive definitions tailored to the national context, fair lanes for RECs in renewables support schemes, simple and proportionate regulatory frameworks for specific activities like collective self-consumption and energy sharing and an open and participatory national assessment of potential and barriers for RECs as the basis of developing enabling frameworks.
The best practices and recommendations from the conference will be immediately used by NSC-FoE Hungary and their allies in its advocacy to strengthen community energy approaches. This can be a helpful assistant within the NECP process.