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Energy communities in the draft National Energy and Climate Plans: encouraging but room for improvements

A briefing by Friends of the Earth Europe, REScoop.eu and the Europa Universität Viadrina

· News,Policy paper

We have undertook the effort to assess the treatment of energy communities in the 28 draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), independently of a pre-existing national framework. After identifying the relevant sections for energy communities, the provisions are analysed according to the following criteria:

  • awareness (positive, negative or lack of acknowledgment);
  • comprehensiveness (amount of dimensions and aspects linked to energy communities) and;
  • preciseness (level of detail for planned measures, distinction between energy communities and related concepts, e.g. self-consumption)

More on the scope and method can be found in annex 1.

The simplified results can be found on this traffic light on the right. A more nuanced picture with summarised comments can be found in the high-level assessment (section 1). While it is encouraging that a vast majority of member states acknowledges positively energy communities, it is restricted to certain dimensions and not accompanied by concrete measures. Annex 2 compiles relevant information and comments of the 28 NECPs.

Section 2 presents a sector by sector assessment, that is, objectives and measures planned for energy communities in renewables, energy efficiency and market integration. While measures for renewable energy communities under the enabling framework were vastly tackled, other targets and measures were mostly ignored.

The key takeaways (section 3) are that:

  • Awareness is moderate but actual planning is low
  • A few member states show strong commitment and should be looked at for best practice
  • A few others have completely missed their shot and should show stronger compliance for their final NECP
  • Sections on energy communities suffer from a lack of clarity concerning terminology, and fail to distinguish between energy communities and technical measures relevant for specific activities such as renewables self-consumption and energy sharing.
  • Renewable energy communities and self-consumption overshadow other dimensions where energy communities can contribute: energy efficiency, energy poverty, ownership and operation of distribution networks, e-mobility, rural development, district heating, etc.

Section 4 presents our recommendations:

  • Introduce quantitative policy targets for energy communities
  • Emphasise their contribution to energy efficiency and raise further opportunities
  • Clarify and distinguish between energy communities and related concepts
  • Include detailed measures and get inspiration from best practice examples
  • Improve compliance with the template and with governance principles to facilitate citizens involvement
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