Overall assessment

Updated March 2024

Legislation amending the Law on Energy and others of 28 July 2023 defines citizen or civic energy communities (CECs) and CECs that operate exclusively in the field of renewable energy sources, which could be considered as RECs, given that the law adds several of the criteria that the Renewables Directive introduces for RECs. RECs are thus introduced in legislation as a sub-set of CECs. In addition, legislation amending the Law on Renewable Energy Sources of 17 August 2023 amends the existing definition of an energy cooperative, which was introduced in 2016 to allow cooperatives to set up energy cooperatives. The updated legislation for CECs and RECs covers requisite participation criteria, including decision-making and control. It also expands the list of legal entities that may be utilized to set up an energy community and clarifies allowed activities in the electricity, gas and heating sectors. CECs, however, are restricted to operating in a single distribution network area, which significantly limits the scope where CECs can operate, limiting their ability to participate in different activities. The law on energy also establishes a registration system, and regulatory oversight. Overall, the new legislation marks an improvement, as before there was no legislation introduced for energy communities, although an enabling framework is still lacking. The national law also includes provisions on energy clusters and collective prosumers

Detailed assessment

Criteria of EU definition reflected in national definition


  • Voluntary and open participation is covered
  • Effective control is covered
  • Geographic proximity is covered, even though it is not a requirement for CECs by EU legislation.

RECs (there is no separate definition for RECs, the Polish law refers to CECs that operate exclusively in the field of renewable energy sources)

  • Voluntary and open participation is covered
  • Effective control is covered
  • Geographical proximity is covered
  • Autonomy/independence is missing

Level of detail in the elaboration of principles contained in EU criteria


  • Requirement of proximity: CECs may operate within the area of a single distribution system operator and production must be connected to networks with a rated voltage level of no more than 110 kV – the EU Directives do not impose a requirement of proximity for CECs.


  • Requirement of proximity and effective control: If an energy community operates exclusively in the field of renewable energy sources, decision-making and control powers shall be vested in members, shareholders or associates residing or located in the area of operation of the same electricity distribution system operator. In case an energy community operates exclusively in the field of renewable energy sources, decision-making and control powers are vested in medium enterprises or educational institutions.
  • There is no clear limitation of the members to natural persons, SMEs and local authorities in the Polish law, as is requested by the Renewables Directive.

Energy Cooperatives

  • the energy cooperative’s area of operation must be determined in line with a connection:
  • to an area of the electricity network that does not exceed a rated voltage level beyond 110 kV;
  • to a district heating network; or
  • to the gas distribution network where members or production are connected.
  • The energy cooperative may act only on the area of three directly neighboring municipalities, but excluding urban municipalities.

Clearly defined purpose

CECs have as their main objective the provisions of environmental, economic or social benefits to members, shareholders, partners, or local areas where they operate.

Under the Law on Renewables, an energy cooperative may undertake activities (production of electricity or biogas, or agricultural biogas, or biomethane, or heat from renewable energy sources, trading, or storage) exclusively for the benefit of the cooperative and its members. This means that it cannot provide services or carry out activities on behalf of non-members.

ICA cooperative governance principles reflected

CECs – yes, through reference to the principles included in the EU definition.

For energy cooperatives, housing cooperative and farmers cooperatives, the ICA principles will be naturally integrated according to how they are implemented under Polish legislation.

Legal entities allowed

For CECs and RECs: Associations (excl. ordinary associations), cooperatives, housing cooperatives, housing communities, farmers’ cooperatives, and most partnerships.


CECs can engage in:

  • With respect to electricity: production, consumption, distribution, sale, resale, aggregation, storage,
  • Implementing energy efficiency improvement projects,
  • Providing charging services for electric vehicles,
  • Providing other services in electricity markets, including system services or flexibility services,
  • The production, consumption, storage or sale of biogas, agricultural biogas, bio-mass and biomass of agricultural origin.

The activities of the CEC may not include connections to other countries.

Energy cooperatives can engage in production of electricity or biogas, or agricultural biogas, or biomethane, or heat in renewable energy source installations, trading in them, or their storage, carried out as part of activities conducted exclusively for the benefit of such cooperatives and their members.

Citizen participation is ensured


Designated authority to oversee

The Energy Regulatory Authority maintains a list of registered CECs – after being entered into this list, the CEC may undertake activities. There are significant provisions in the law on energy and the law on renewables to identify, register and provide information to the Energy Regulatory Authority. This may be difficult for energy communities to meet and should be observed. The list of CECs must be public and maintained in electronic form on the webpage of the Energy Regulatory Authority. There are instances where entry to the list may be refused or withdrawn.

Energy Cooperatives have to be entered to the list of energy cooperatives kept by the Director General of the National Centre for Agricultural Support.

Number of definitions

3 - CECs, RECs and the pre-existing concept of energy cooperatives.

Coherency between both definitions

The legislative changes in 2023 created two concepts, CECs and RECs and introduced changes to the pre-existing concept of energy cooperatives. CECs are introduced as an overarching concept with RECs being introduced as a subset (actually the law does not refer to RECs directly, it refers to CECs that focus exclusively on renewable energy sources and imposes requirements similar to those applying to RECs under the Renewables Directive). This co-existence of 3 concepts could create confusion, especially taking into account that one of the legal forms that a CEC or a REC can undertake is the cooperative one. Therefore, it might be complex for citizens to understand the differences between the 3 concepts and choose one or the other.