Spain introduced the definition of RECs in Royal Decree-Law 23/2020, which approves measures in the field of energy and in other areas for economic reactivation. They had also opened a consultation with specific questions on local energy communities. In the preamble of the Royal Decree it is mentioned that the introduction of RECs is aimed at the participation of citizens and local authorities in renewable energy projects, which will allow a greater local acceptance of these energies and a greater participation of citizens in the energy transition. In this legal instrument, besides defining RECs and incorporating them as a new actor in the market, the law establishes that in competitive procedures, the particularities of RECs will be taken into account so that they can compete for access to the remuneration framework on an equal basis with other participants, all in accordance with community regulation.
The definition of RECs is a copy-paste of the EU definition, without any elaboration on what each term means (‘The renewable energy communities, which are legal entities based on open and voluntary participation, autonomous and effectively controlled by partners or members who are located in the vicinity of the renewable energy projects that are owned by said legal entities and that these have developed, whose partners or members are individuals, SMEs or local authorities, including municipalities and whose primary purpose is to provide environmental, economic or social benefits to their partners or members or to the local areas where they operate, instead of financial gains’).
There is not concrete delimitation of the types of legal entities that could be used to develop RECs. Moreover, there are no powers given to a regulatory authority to oversee the definition. This could give rise to abuse and lack of trust/clarity in the concept by citizens.
The Spanish NECP foresees several measures to foster energy communities. Energy communities are also mentioned in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan "España Puede", in its chapters on the Urban and Rural Agenda, and on the Fair and Inclusive Energy Transition. Also, they are mentioned in the National Long-term Strategy document España 2050, in its Sustainability and Climate Change chapter. The national institute for energy diversification and savings (IDAE, a government agency) has published a guide on the development of Local Energy Communities.
There is no transposition of the CEC definition at the moment, it is probably expected in 2022.
Criteria of EU definition reflected in national definition
- open and voluntary participation are covered
- autonomy is covered
- effective control is covered
- requirement of proximity is covered
Level of detail in the elaboration of principles contained in EU criteria
There is no elaboration of what these terms mean.
Clearly defined purpose
It is mentioned that the primary purpose of RECs is to provide environmental, economic or social benefits to their partners or members or to the local areas where they operate, instead of financial gains.
ICA cooperative governance principles reflected
Only partly, through reference to the principles included in the EU definitions.
Legal entities allowed
This is not mentioned in the Royal Decree-Law 23/2020, though the NECP mentions in measure 1.13. that the lines of action are established to develop the appropriate regulatory framework that defines these legal entities and favors their development. The said regulatory framework must take into account the legal figures that may be constituted in local energy communities, such as those derived from associations, cooperatives, managers of industrial estates, technology parks, communities of owners or port areas, etc. However, this list overly-broad and there is no clarity on the legal entities allowed. As such, there is a significant risk of corporate capture.
Citizen participation is ensured
Designated authority to oversee
Not mentioned. This increases the risk of corporate capture, given the expansive list of potential legal entities that could be used to develop energy communities.
Number of definitions
Coherency between both definitions