A brand new step-by-step guide to public procurement and municipal support for energy communities
The "municipal guide" is a new step-by-step guide, written and published in the context of the COMPILE project that collects and analyses the support mechanisms that can be adopted by local authorities to initiate the creation, expansion and scaling of energy communities in their territories. The guide illustrates those mechanisms with real life examples.
The guide has two main sections: the first is dedicated to direct support schemes, the second to indirect support. The first chapter covers all types of subsidies and investments that municipalities can make to support energy communities. The basis for this chapter is largely formed by previous work of municipal and European research organizations.
The second chapter is dedicated to public procurement and includes unique research on adapting procurement and concession procedures to enhance the participation of energy communities. This chapter explores how municipalities can adapt their procurement processes to better support the participation of Renewable Energy Communities (RECs). Based on qualitative interviews with municipalities and energy cooperatives from across Europe, this chapter compares several examples of successful development of procurement procedures by municipalities that have facilitated open competition and fair treatment of RECs.
Although the political objectives of public procurement are to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to source climate neutral products and services, most smaller municipalities struggle to integrate climate objectives and criteria into their procurement procedures. The risks associated with the development of procurement procedures, as well as the lack of clarity on how to take into account social and environmental criteria, are causing municipalities to refrain from using this tool to support the development of citizen-led initiatives in their territories.
Supporting the development of collective action schemes
Our research shows that the main things that municipalities need to keep in mind when supporting the development of collective action schemes are:
- Enabling local citizens to take ownership of and participate in the initiatives – this includes consideration of various forms of governance;
- Public money should be allocated in a way that it benefits the community as a whole in the best possible way; and
- Support for bottom-up citizen initiatives can go hand-in-hand with other local policy objectives, including a renewable transition, other climate goals, cohesion, and a resilient and circular economy.
This guide concludes that municipalities have several tools at their disposal to involve RECs in procurement decisions, including using political objectives and transition plans as non-legislative tools, developing procurement processes and objectives to adopt a participatory approach, and using selection and award criteria.