Overall assessment

Updated December 2023

The new Law 5037/2023 that transposed the EU provisions for RECs and CECs introduced some of the elements of an enabling framework and provides for the development of Ministerial decisions that will further elaborate certain measures, including access to information and trainings for energy communities, the elaboration of the activity of virtual net metering (VNM), financing support for energy community projects and so on. Such decisions and by-laws are not in place, therefore various questions still exist on the development of the new framework for RECs and CECs and the status of the already existing energy communities established under the previous Law 4513/2018. In addition, although it is a requirement introduced by EU legislation that the unjustified regulatory and administrative barriers are removed, the co-existence of 3 definitions for energy communities and all the different provisions that regulate such entities adds to the legal complexity and constitutes a considerable regulatory barrier for the development of energy communities in Greece.

Detailed assessment

Assessment of obstacles and potential for development of ECs

The Centre for Renewable Sources and Energy Savings should carry out an annual assessment of the barriers and development possibilities of RECs and CECs and after this, if deemed necessary, recommends to the Minister of Environment and Energy ways and incentives to promote and develop such initiatives. Here the national law goes further than the Directives and introduces an annual assessment that will take place for both RECs and CECs, which is positively evaluated.

Removal of unjustified regulatory & administrative barriers

The introduction of 2 new definitions for energy communities on top of the existing definition introduced by the Law 4513/2018 added on the legal complexity and confusion around the concept. Some of the pre-existing barriers that energy communities faced, for instance access to the grid and issues with the implementation of the VNM legislation, are still not resolved.

DSO duties around cooperation with ECs and facilitation of energy sharing

The law mentions that the system operators should cooperate with RECs to facilitate energy transfers within the community. In addition, it highlights that, subject to the payment of compensation, the amount of which is determined by the Waste, Energy and Water Regulatory Authority, the DSO as manager of the Hellenic electricity distribution network, including the one of non-interconnected islands, cooperates with CECs in order to facilitate electricity transfers within the community. The law also sets specific provisions for the participation of RECs and CECs in the activity of virtual net metering (VNM).

However, there are still gaps with the implementation of the legislation for VNM. Several problems still exist with access to the grid for energy communities that want to develop VNM projects. For instance, the DSO do not reveal beforehand if they have the capacity for the project, so there are transparency issues. Another barrier identified for the participation of citizen-driven energy communities to VNM projects is that, due to the current high electricity prices, more and more businesses and big industrial consumers develop energy communities in Greece in order to set up VNM projects and self-consume this energy. However, all these new energy communities that consist of businesses have funding, are faster, as they consist of professionals and occupy the grid, thus leaving no room for energy communities that are unique citizen initiatives that want to develop a VNM project. Therefore, the hijacking phenomenon of the concept of energy communities is very evident in Greece and constitutes a barrier for the unique citizen initiatives to participate in the market.

Fair, proportionate, and transparent registration & licensing procedures

The law states that RECs and CECs are subject to fair, proportionate and transparent procedures, including registration and licensing procedures. RECs and CECs are also not subject to discrimination in relation to their activities, rights and obligations as final customers, producers, suppliers, distribution system operators or other market participants. Energy communities need to register to the REC and CEC Registry which is established in the General Commercial Registry.

The law also adds that that applications that are submitted by RECs for:

a) granting a producer certificate for renewable energy sources and High-Efficiency Heat Cogeneration stations, as long as they present a territorial overlap with other applications that have been submitted within the same application submission cycle, as defined in the Certifications Regulation of article 18 of Law 4685/2020,

b) environmental licensing decisions,

c) issuance of installation and operation permits,

are considered on a priority basis. In addition, the licensing regulation of the Law 4001/201160 may provide for special conditions for the licenses granted to RECs.

Incentives connected to network tariffs based on a CBA

Copy paste from Directives –RECs and CECs are subject to cost-reflective network charges, as well as fees, contributions and taxes, ensuring that they contribute in an adequate, fair and balanced way to the overall cost-sharing of the electrical system. If electricity is shared within a CEC, this is subject to applicable network charges, tariffs and levies, in accordance with a transparent cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of shared energy resources developed by the national competent authority. Such a CBA is not performed yet.

Non-discriminatory treatment as market participant

Copy paste - CECs should be treated in a proportionate, non-discriminatory manner in terms of their activities, rights and obligations as end-customers, producers, suppliers, DSOs or market participants engaged in aggregation. The law also states that RECs should have access to all energy markets, both directly and through aggregation, in a non-discriminatory manner.

It should be mentioned that the Law 4951/2022 has recently allowed the imposition of injection restrictions to take place for renewable projects, including those of energy communities, in the form of permanent limitations of the maximum production power of the station in relation to the installed power of its units, among others. Such permanent restrictions are imposed by the DSO based on technical criteria, especially taking into account how saturated the substation to which the project is connected is. This constitutes a barrier especially for self-consumption projects of energy communities that aim to provide the produced energy to their members.

Accessibility to low-income & vulnerable households

There were some mentions of the role of energy communities in addressing energy poverty already in the pervious Law 4513/2018, however no new energy communities can be established under this Law. The new Law mentions energy poor households on the provisions for the activity of virtual net metering (VNM) and states that the installation of renewable stations for self-consumption with the application of VNM is allowed for, among others, RECs, CECs and energy communities established under the Law 4513/2018 to cover the energy needs of members who are exclusively household consumers, farmers registered in the Register of farmers and agricultural holdings, as well as to meet the energy needs of citizens living below the poverty line and households affected by energy poverty. It is also stated that RECs and CECs can support energy poor households even if the latter are not members in the community.

Tools to access finance

The law states that RECs can be included in the law on social cooperative enterprises, as a distinct form of cooperative organization, as well as in other programs that are financed by national or EU resources, in accordance with the rules of state aid. In addition, by joint decision of the Minister of Environment and Energy and the relevant Minister as the case may be, programs may be announced for the installation of photovoltaic plants, photovoltaic plants with storage systems, renewable plants of different technologies and renewable stations of different technology with storage systems from RECs, which plants will be for the implementation of virtual net metering, with financing in particular from EU resources and the National Development Program.

Greece's National Recovery and Resilience Plan includes support to energy communities operated by Municipalities to allow sharing of produced green electricity with the electricity consumption of energy poor households. Specifically, 100 million euros have been set aside for energy communities in the Greek National Recovery and Resilience Plan, while almost all of the Operational Programmes under the 2021-2027 Cohesion Funding Period mention energy communities as potential beneficiaries of public funds.

Furthermore, RECs are exempted from the obligation to submit a producer certification letter of guarantee under Article 11A of Law 4685/2020 and a letter of guarantee under Article 6 of Law 4951/2022, as well as from the payment of the producer certification application fee to the Waste, Energy and Water Regulatory Authority and the final connection offer to the relevant Administrators. In addition, for RECs the physical installation space commitment fee, as well as the installation extension and electrical space commitment fee are reduced by 50%.

The law also mentions that by decision of the Waste, Energy and Water Regulatory Authority, following a proposal by the electricity market officials and the competent managers, reduced amounts of guarantees may be set for the registration of the REC in the registers of participants in the electricity market and management of the electricity networks, taking into account criteria, such as the population or the demand for electricity in the region of the renewable or high efficiency heat cogeneration station of the REC.

With regards to access to financing for CECs, the law specifies that CECs can also carry out the activities of RECs and enjoy the financial incentives and support measures of such initiatives, according to the relevant legislation for RECs, as long as the provisions on the proximity of the members applies. It also states that by decision of the Minister of Environment and Energy, financial incentives and measures to support CECs may be established – no such decision is published.

Tools to access information

According to the law, all information on support measures to inform interested parties, especially vulnerable and low-income consumers, self-consumers of energy from renewable sources, RECs, manufacturers, installers, architects, suppliers of equipment and heating systems, cooling and electricity, as well as vehicle suppliers, compatible with the use of renewable energy sources and intelligent transport systems are posted on the websites of the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Centre for Renewable Sources and Energy Savings.

The Ministry of Environment and Energy also prepares appropriate information, awareness raising, instructions or training programs, where deemed appropriate with the participation of local and regional authorities, to inform citizens of the ways in which they can exercise their rights as active customers and on the advantages and practicalities, including technical and economic aspects, of the development and use of energy from renewable sources, and through self-consumption of energy from renewable sources or in the context of RECs. Such information is not available yet.

In addition, the recent revision of the Greek National Recovery and Resilience Plan (including the REPowerEU chapter) explicitly mentions that the Government will establish a self-consumers registry and design and implementation of technical assistance measures for RECs and CECs, which shall provide technical and advisory support to the communities, legal assistance and shall propose solutions for obstacles encountered, provide information on how to set up projects, processes and on how to access funding. In addition to the technical assistance provided, the measures shall also help in the production of capacity building materials, communication and awareness campaigns, outreach initiatives and events (such as workshops).

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

According to Law 4579/2020 (article 160(3g)(3e)) and Law 4414/2016 (article 7(3a)), an energy community that has a Municipality as a member or an energy community with at least 60 members (50 of which are natural persons) can get a fixed tariff of 0.63 euros/MWh for 20 years without taking part in competitive procedures. This is not a permanent measure; it is dependent each time on a Ministerial decision. It should be highlighted that as far as the application is concerned, there must be enough space in the network as defined by the TSO and DSO for the measure to be implemented.