Structural Funds (mainly ERDF and ESF) are used at Regional level through the definition and implementation of Regional Operational Plans (POR) within 7 years planning cycles.
Within the 2014-2020 planning cycle, the majority of Regional Operational Plans (POR) included the increase of RE share and the implementation of energy efficiency measures, but Renewable Energy Communities were not explicitly envisaged or mentioned due to the lack of a specific national legislative framework at the time of the plans definition.
Within the 2021-2027 planning cycle, many Regional Operational Plans (POR) explicitly envisage the setup of Renewable Energy Communities as a specific objective and allocate funds to promote them.
Some examples of Regions which already launched specific initiatives whose resources are (at least partially) provided by the EU structural funds are:
- Lombardia: in July 2022 the region launched a call for interest to collect preliminary RECs project which will be ranked and at a later time financed through a dedicated financing scheme which is not yet currently defined. https://www.bandi.regione.lombardia.it/procedimenti/new/bandi/bandi/ambiente-energia/efficientamento-energetico/manifestazione-d-interesse-presentazione-progetti-comunit-energetiche-rinnovabili-RLV12022026663
- Emilia Romagna: in December 2022 the region launched a call for interest and allocated 2M€ to finance feasibility studies and and RECs legal establishment expenses. Among the criteria to define the ranking lists there are: quality and clarity of the specific objective and of the implementation strategy, REC management model (production, sharing, storage economic management) number and typology of members, contribution to climate neutrality, cost-benefit ratio. https://fesr.regione.emilia-romagna.it/opportunita/2022/sostegno-allo-sviluppo-di-comunita-energetiche-rinnovabili
- Lazio: in December 2022 the region launched a call for interest and allocated 1M€ to finance techno-economic feasibility studies for the setup of new RECs. Among the criteria to define the ranking list there are: RECs dimension (n. of members) and organisational model (members typologies: citizens, SMEs, local administrations), energy benefits (RE capacity and % of consumptions coverage), social benefits (n. of vulnerable and young consumers) https://www.lazioinnova.it/bandi/avviso-pubblico-per-la-realizzazione-di-studi-di-fattibilita-tecnico-economica-delle-comunita-energetiche-rinnovabili-nel-lazio/
- Campania: in December 2022 the region launched a call for interest reserved for small municipalities (<5.000 inhabitants) and allocated1 M€ to finance feasibility studies and and RECs legal establishment expenses (max 8.000€ for each municipality). Access to funds is based on the chronological order of demands submission. https://www.regione.campania.it/regione/it/news/regione-informa/avviso-rivolto-ai-comuni-campani-con-popolazione-inferiore-ai-5-000-abitanti-per-la-promozione-delle-comunita-energetiche-solidali-e-rinnovabili-in-campania
- Sicilia: In June 2022 the region launched a call for interest and allocated 5M€ to finance feasibility studies and RECs' legal establishment expenses. Each regional municipality could access an amount proportionate to the local population. A specific requirement is that at least 10% of the RECs' members should be vulnerable consumers. https://www.regione.sicilia.it/la-regione-informa/avviso-pubblico-costituzione-comunita-energie-rinnovabili-solidali
- Sardegna: in April 2023 the region approved the allocation of funds (2M€ for 2023 and 2M€ for 2024) to finance techno-economic feasibility studies for energy communities. Funds are earmarked for municipalities, which can receive up to 15.000€, giving priority to municipalities which are not connected to the methane gas grid and secondly to smaller ones. https://delibere.regione.sardegna.it/protected/64934/0/def/ref/DBR64702/
General: allocation, definition, transposition
Specific allocation for energy communities
The various different Regional Operational Programs explicitly mention RECs and allocate specific budget to promote and support the setup of new RECs.
Definition of energy communities in line with EU legislation
The definition of energy communities that are eligible under the Italian Regional Programmes, is in line with EU legislation. The reference to the definition of RECs is included in the Legislative Decree 199/2021 (article 31), which is in line with the REDII definition.
Proportionality of share of total fund allocated to energy communities
It is difficult to fully assess this at present, since funds which will be allocated for CAPEX investments have not yet been defined.
Availability of tailored financing tools
Currently, existing financing tools are in the form of non refundable grants, which cover only the feasibility studies and some preliminary activities. Specific financing tools to cover CAPEX investments are not yet defined, awaiting for the final implementation of the REDII Directive, which should also provide guidelines on potential combinations of financing tools and/or eligibility.
Link to a wider scope of activities and objectives
Link between energy communities, building renovation and energy efficiency
According to the provisions included in Legislative Decree 199/2021 (article 31), RECs can: produce, share, store and sell renewable electricity, produce and share other forms of renewable energy (e.g. thermal energy), promote energy efficiency and home automation interventions, offer EVs charging services to their members and offer ancillary and flexibility grid services. Building renovation is not explicitly mentioned, even if in principle some building renovation interventions could be included in the "energy efficiency" measures category. Nonetheless, the current legislative framework provides workable provisions only for electricity production, sharing, storage and selling, while specific regulation for the other activities have not been yet implemented in the legislation.
Recognition of energy communities under multiple objectives
Energy communities are recognised under multiple objectives in the Italian Regional Operational Programs. For example, energy communities that include vulnerable consumers or tackle energy poverty are awarded extra points in public tenders. Energy communities are also identified as a strategic tool to support rural areas & small Municipalities.
Transparency and inclusiveness
Holistic strategy to provide financing across different levels of project development
Although the strategy differs from Region to Region, holistic support is provided to energy communities across different stages of project development. Specifically, funds are provided for capacity building, legal, technical and administrative support, as well as project development.
Transparency of the design and communication of the schemes and measures
With variety from Region to Region, the schemes' different requirements are not always easy to be interpreted and compared, but information sessions were organised and services to receive clarifications and support were generally made available.
Selection criteria and the prioritisation of various social components
Even though they differ from Region to Region, the selection criteria to qualify for funding are overall satisfactory, prioritising various social components. For example, in some cases funds are allocated only to initiatives promoted by Local administrations (e.g. Lombardia Region), in other cases funds are allocated only to municipalities with less than 5.000 inhabitants (e.g. Campania Region). In other cases, only to initiatives that involve a minimum number of vulnerable consumers (e.g. Sicilia Region). Where a ranking list is envisaged, social and/or environmental criteria are applied to score the proposals.
Decentralised tender process
The process of disbursing funds from the Regional Operational Programmes is decentralised. Regions are responsible for their own territorial initiatives.
Existence of procedures to facilitate the participation of energy communities in open calls
There are procedures in place to facilitate the access of energy communities to available funds. For example The Lazio Region signed an agreement with the Engineering Department of the Sapienza University of Rome to organise information sessions and offer capacity building and technical advice. Another example is the one of Veneto Region, that made an agreement with Provinces to implement information and training activities and setup an information desk at the local level.
Inclusion of energy communities in national REPowerEU chapter
This information is not available yet.