REScoop makes its policy call ahead of the European elections

‘In order for the energy transition to succeed, citizens should be placed at the centre of that transition’

The European federation of citizen energy cooperatives (REScoop) is calling for a range of policies ahead of the European elections in May.

REScoop’s manifesto, Europe’s energy transition: active energy citizens take ownership, suggests a range of measures member states should adopt to boost renewable energy communities.

“The ongoing energy crisis highlights Europe’s urgent shift from centralised, import-dependent fossil and nuclear energy to renewable energy,” it says, “a transition to a sustainable, decentralised, carbon-free, democratic energy system. Energy communities, organising citizens and their local communities to actively participate in decarbonisation, contribute significantly to the EU’s main climate and energy policy objectives.”

While acknowledging that EU legislation recognises and supports energy communities, including the Clean Energy Package, Fit for 55, and REPowerEU, REScoop argues there is room for improvement when it comes to member states’ implementation. It adds that member states have been slow in developing and implementing concrete on-the-ground measures to support their sector.

To address this, REScoop suggests 10 measures:

  • Ensure full and effective transposition, implementation, and enforcement of EU rules to create robust regulatory and enabling frameworks that level the playing field for energy communities in the energy market.
  • Develop an EU-level strategy for how different EU and national actions can support the development of energy communities across different areas of EU policy.
  • Ensure that energy communities are supported through available EU funds and the application of State aid rules and that at the national level funding programmes are developed to help derisk community projects. 
  • Encourage inclusiveness in energy communities by lowering barriers to entering such initiatives and by supporting them to take a stronger role in achieving social objectives and becoming more inclusive towards vulnerable and energy-poor households.
  • Ensure that energy communities can pass on the benefits of local renewables production to their members, particularly through lower energy bills, by guaranteeing access to grids for energy sharing, the ability to supply, and to enter into power purchase agreements. 
  • Support the role energy communities can play in providing flexibility, including through better collaboration with system operators, particularly at the local level.
  • Guarantee that energy communities can play a larger role in decarbonising local heating and cooling through an enabling and financial framework to support community district heating.
  • Encourage the role of energy communities in reducing overall energy consumption through energy savings, citizen-led renovations, and a commitment to the efficiency first principle.
  • Promote collaboration between municipalities and energy communities by providing more funding and technical support to local authorities, and by clarifying rules around public procurement and concessions to support the participation of energy communities in public tenders and concessions allocation.
  • Support energy communities to participate in larger projects, such as offshore, through the use of dedicated financing tools and programmes, and the inclusion of criteria to allow energy communities to participate in public auctions and tenders. 

Dirk Vansintjan, president of REScoop, said: “We call on candidates of the European Parliament elections to endorse our Manifesto and become energy community supporters. It’s important to understand that in order for the energy transition to succeed, citizens should be placed at the centre of that transition.” 

The apex invites candidates, political parties, and policymakers to actively engage with it in realising these priorities. 

A 2016 study commissioned by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Europe, the European Renewable Energy Federation (EREF) and REScoop found that around 45 % of renewable energy production in the EU could come from citizens by 2050.

According to REScoop, research in France and Germany also reveals that locally controlled and financed renewable projects deliver two to eight times more return to the local economy than projects built by external developers.

A 2020 study published in ScienceDirect also found that EU citizens have the capacity to invest up to €240bn towards the energy transition by 2030.