The Netherlands will receive €506 million from the EU budget for the period 2021-2027 to carry out its European Regional Development programmes. There are four Regional Development Programmes, one for the Western, Eastern, Southern, and Northern Netherlands respectively. Energy communities are mentioned in some of the Programmes.
General: allocation, definition, transposition
Specific allocation for energy communities
Only the West Regional Development Program includes energy communities as specific targets. The North program has a small subsidy for energy communities to hire legal experts. The East program doesn't mention energy communities at all, however energy communities are not excluded as potential beneficiaries. The South programme does mention energy communities, yet to date no energy community has received funding through this programme.
Definition of energy communities in line with EU legislation
The West Regional Development Program mentions energy communities as beneficial for involving citizens, without deeper elaboration for criteria around what constitutes an energy community. The South programme mentions energy communities as a legal form, but without further elaboration criteria or links with national legislation.
Proportionality of share of total fund allocated to energy communities
The specific funds allocated to energy communities through the Dutch Regional Programmes are very insignificant considering the significantly large size of the community energy movement in the Netherlands.
Availability of tailored financing tools
Only grants are provided through the Dutch Regional Programmes. Additional financing tools that fit different situations (e.g., loans, guarantees, blended finance) are not foreseen.
Link to a wider scope of activities and objectives
Link between energy communities, building renovation and energy efficiency
In the West Regional Development Program energy communities are linked to topics such as the circular economy, energy systems, renewable energy generation, and energy efficiency. Other programs don't mention specific activities.
Recognition of energy communities under multiple objectives
In the various Dutch Regional Development Programmes energy communities are clustered under the objective of achieving a 'green economy'. In the West Regional Development Programme energy cooperatives are an eligible group under the following priority themes: energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy systems, and the sustainable development of cities.
Transparency and inclusiveness
Holistic strategy to provide financing across different levels of project development
There is not a well defined holistic strategy in place to provide financing across different levels of project development (i.e., facilitating grid access, one stop shops, awareness raising & capacity building, pilot financing, administrative, business model and legal advice). In the North Programme, the 5k euro grant is used for legal support. In the West Programme, support could be provided across different levels of project development, yet there is no clear strategy in place.
Transparency of the design and communication of the schemes and measures
The design and communication of the Dutch Programmes has not been sufficiently transparent.
Selection criteria and the prioritisation of various social components
The selection criteria for energy communities to qualify for funding under the Dutch Regional Development Programmes, have not been elaborated in detail.
Decentralised tender process
Each of the four Regions has a board, which makes the decisions on how the money from the Regional Programmes will be disbursed, creating a regional (but still centralised) system. In the West budgets are allocated per province and for the big cities (https://kvw3.kansenvoorwest.nl...).
Existence of procedures to facilitate the participation of energy communities in open calls
There are no relevant procedures in place (e.g., capacity building workshops/ working with network and intermediary organisations) to facilitate the participation of energy communities in accessing available public funds.
Stability and predictability of the programme through time
There are limited amendments to the 6-7 year cycle of these programs. There is great transparency and consistency in the structure of the programs, and the investment policy. Investments are decided upfront in one-year disbursement cycles.