Overall assessment

Updated February 2023

The Flemish government has had an assessment of potential and barriers carried out on its behalf. However, it is still working on the development of an enabling framework for RECs and CECs. Nevertheless, some best practice can be observed at the local level, where municipal authorities have integrated local participation into public tenders for developing renewable energy projects on publicly-owned property. Furthermore, a Federal level support scheme to promote offshore renewable energy development includes specific provisions to ensure energy communities can participate in financing and ownership of offshore wind projects. A framework for energy sharing will be effective as of 2023.

Overall, the Flemish government still needs to develop a number of measures to ensure an enabling framework for RECs, even while some positive policies are emerging for offshore and at a more local level, and an initial framework for energy sharing is emerging.

Detailed assessment

Assessment of obstacles and potential for development of ECs

The Regulator of the Flemish Energy and Gas market VREG and the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency (Flemish Minister of Energy) have a duty to carry out an assessment of potential and barriers. An assessment of existing barriers for collective activities has been made by VITO on the request of the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency. A summary of this assessment is publicly available with an overview of five main barriers for collective activities (Finance and Organization, Market and Economy, Technology, Institution and Governance, Regulation) and some key recommendations. In 2023 the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency (VEKA) will evaluate the regulatory framework for energy communities.

Removal of unjustified regulatory & administrative barriers

Not addressed in the transposition.

DSO duties around cooperation with ECs and facilitation of energy sharing

It is currently possible to conduct collective self-consumption at the building level, and energy sharing beyond building level by RECs and CECs will become possible as of the beginning of 2023. However, the DSOs are still in a piloting phase, and many details of how ‘cooperation’ should be established is still under development. From 23 January 2023 it is possible to share energy within a REC/CEC.

Fair, proportionate, and transparent registration & licensing procedures

Energy communities must register with VREG, who is responsible for publicly displaying all registered energy communities online. However, there is no criteria for who can register, and no oversight to ensure that criteria are met. As such, there is a strong risk of corporate capture and abuse. In this way, the registration process is too easy, which may create conceptual and legal confusion further down the line. A more rigorous screening process around compliance with the criteria to be registered as an energy community is necessary in order to ensure citizens can maintain trust in the energy community concept.

Incentives connected to network tariffs based on a CBA

No incentives are provided. Energy sharing will be allowed, but this will only affect the energy component of the bill, leaving network charges, taxes and levies, unaffected. VREG is running a CBA on incentives connected to network tariffs. The results are expected by August 2023.

Non-discriminatory treatment as market participant

Not addressed in the transposition.

Accessibility to low-income & vulnerable households

Not addressed in the transposition.

Tools to access finance

Not addressed in the transposition.

Tools to access information

Not addressed in the transposition.

Regulatory capacity building for public authorities

Not addressed in the transposition.

NECP reporting on enabling frameworks

Not addressed in the transposition. Member States are required via the Governance Regulation (2018/1999) to report on their enabling frameworks for RECs by 15 March 2023.

Support Scheme adapted for RECs

Form of support for community production projects

Currently, there is a Green Certificate system in place. This consists of a feed in premium for renewable electricity and guarantees a certain ROI.

RECs taken into account when designing eligibility/participation requirements

This Green Certificate system will be gradually replaced by competitive bidding/auctions, and auctions have already been established for (medium sized) PV and (small and medium sized on-shore) wind. Based on the decision of the Flemish Council of Ministers (25/02/2022), apartment buildings are included within the call system for mid-size PV systems from 25 kW to 5 MW, and there is a subcategory for CECs and RECs (VR 2022 2502 DOC.0205/2BIS). For the first call(s) a threshold will be set of at least one housing unit or member of the energy community per 5 kWp. After each call, the threshold, which is set by ministerial decree, is evaluated and if necessary adjusted.

Local Tendering policies favouring energy communities

Municipalities that look for developers of RES projects on their land and roofs that allow their citizens to invest and control the installations. For instance, the municipality of Geraardsbergen stipulates in a decision of the municipal council that it aims for at least 50% of direct participation in RES projects on its territory by means of energy cooperatives that comply with the ICA principles74. The municipality of Eeklo explicitly included the requirement of direct participation of its inhabitants in the development of wind project on its territory.7

Offshore wind tenders

the federal government has foreseen the possibility of citizen participation in the new offshore wind tenders in the Royal Decree of 12 May 2019, on the basis of the Electricity Act, article 6.3 9. As such, the Federal Government is currently developing a proposal pursuant to article 714 of the Civil Code, which grants equal right of use of commons (e.g., wind) to all citizens.