Energy communities represent a new form of organization and energy management involving different actors within a local community. They are models of collective self-consumption, sharing local energy created with the strong participation of citizens, businesses and local authorities in their development and implementation.
The earliest examples of energy communities were developed at the end of the 19th century in many European countries (especially in Italy as community initiatives for the electrification of alpine areas) and revived with the development of renewable energy sources (in the 1970s in Denmark the first wind cooperatives were established). Since the 2000s they have grown as bottom-up initiatives and as a possible new model for citizen and local community engagement in the energy transition.
The latest European Directives define energy communities for the first time as legal entities and active players in the European energy systems, starting a process of developing new initiatives that have led to an evolution of the sector in member countries, including Italy.
Chiara Candelise, of the GREEN research center of Bocconi and author of the 2020 article “Status and Evolution of the Community Energy Sector in Italy” with Gianluca Ruggieri of the University of Insubria, has been studying energy communities for a long time. Together with Ruggieri, he also wrote the essay “The Community Energy Sector in Italy: Historical Perspective and Recent Evolution” which appeared in the book “Renewable Energy Communities and the Low Carbon Energy Transition in Europe.”
“The new European directives on energy communities have two main objectives. The first is technical: it is intended to enable and actually facilitate self-consumption from intermittent, renewable sources, maximizing local self-consumption and, thus, reducing the impact on the grids,” explained Candelise.
“The second objective has a more strict nature of regulation because, in accordance with the developments in the sector before the European Directives, energy communities are defined and regulated as open participation entities of individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises and local authorities belonging to the same community on a voluntary basis.
Energy communities offer many advantages. First, they allow individuals and companies to become active participants in the energy system, rather than passive consumers. Each member of the community can contribute to his own energy production, which can be fed into the grid and shared with other members. It promotes local production of energy from renewable sources, reducing reliance on traditional, centralized sources.
“We are busy mapping the existing energy communities. A first broad survey of the 29 countries I cooperate with [with] recently published in Scientific Data. It is an inventory of more than 10,000 initiatives and 16,000 generating units, which among other things includes data available for further analysis of the European sector.
“Another ongoing activity is to make a methodologically sound assessment of their economic, social and environmental effects. Both of these efforts are part of the European COMETS (Collective Action Models for the Energy Transition and Social Innovation) project of which Bocconi is a member,” continued Candelise. “This is very important work because it will serve as informed evidence of the effects of these initiatives as a basis for policy decisions, at the national and European level.”
The GREEN Bocconi research center is also a technical partner of the IFEC (Italian Forum of Energy Communities), sponsored by the World Energy Council to examine and share best practices on the subject of energy communities.
August Wierling et al, A Europe-wide inventory of citizen-led energy action with data from 29 countries and over 10000 initiatives, Scientific Data (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41597-022-01902-5
Provided by Bocconi University
Citation: New life for energy communities, thanks to self-generation and power sharing (2023, July 24) retrieved on July 25, 2023 from https://techxplore.com/news/2023-07-life-energy-communities-self-generation-power.html
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