By Greenpeace Greece & REScoop.eu
Over the last months, Greece has made gradual but solid steps towards the promotion of energy democracy and boosting citizens participation.
Last January, the new law on energy communities was voted in the Greek Parliament: it defined the role of citizens in the energy sector, giving particular emphasis on the promotion of a solidarity economy and on fighting energy poverty. Its wide scope on energy communities includes production, distribution and supply of energy as well as special clauses that promote energy self-sufficiency and security in island municipalities. It has an eye for the future too, as it includes new and innovative technologies such as storage, electric vehicles charging services, self-consumption and energy efficiency end use at local and regional level.
All in all, the law aims to enable citizens, local actors such as municipalities and regions and small and medium-sized local businesses to participate in the energy transition and energy planning through their direct active involvement in energy projects, with priority being given to Renewable Energy Sources.
Equally important, the law is trying to address energy poverty in Greece through the principles of solidarity: help vulnerable households to become prosumers and to get access to clean energy, rather than treat them as perpetual recipients of consumption subsidies. This means that available social policy funds should start reallocating from current support schemes to programs that promote wider civic participation, incorporating the principles of energy democracy.
"Help vulnerable households to become prosumers and to get access to clean energy, rather than treat them as perpetual recipients of consumption subsidies"
It is still unclear how the law will make a true difference and affect investments in a debt ridden and untrustworthy economy. Much will depend on the government’s willingness to support the law with actual and concrete policies.
But if anything, several municipalities like Larissa in Central Greece, Thessaloniki or Athens suburbs are already making plans to use virtual net-metering to cover their own energy needs. Greenpeace is working with a few of them, preparing plans for setting up energy communities that provide free solar energy to vulnerable households in their vicinity, thus, revolutionising the way energy and social policies are carried out in Greece.
Virtual power sharing provisions in the law can be a game-changer for Greece: as around 60% of all Greeks live in multi-appartment buildings. The lack of available rooftop space for solar installations is an even greater physical barrier than the credit crunch itself.
With the establishment of an energy community, thousands of households and businesses have now access to their own clean energy to match their consumption. The law allows for virtual power sharing investments in available spaces that might be physically elsewhere from the actual point of consumption: another rooftop, or some available land within the same prefecture. Households, businesses, farmers, and local governments can now create their own community solar parks, up to 1 MWp, and offset their electricity bills through virtual net-metering. And they would still pay charges for their fair use of the grid.
Greenpeace is following the developments closely and will continue working for the smooth implementation of the law: ensuring that the process of energy transition speeds up in a socially fair manner.
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behavior, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. It comprises of 26 independent national/regional offices in 55 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, as well as a co-ordinating body, Greenpeace International.
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