The Clean Energy for all Europeans Package (CEP) represents an unprecedented acknowledgment by the European Union that consumer empowerment and citizen participation are indispensable to our Union’s energy transition. Indeed, citizen ownership of energy infrastructure leads to a higher acceptance of renewables.

While the role of energy communities has been highlighted in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), the Electricity Market Design (EMD), and the Buildings Directive (EPBD), their potential for heating and cooling has remained patchy across the EU. With half of the EU’s energy consumption being heating and cooling and the current legislative focus on decarbonisation, we must empower citizens to own and participate in their heating and cooling networks.

Through a study of four Member States and their energy cooperatives working on citizen-owned heating and cooling projects, this position paper has identified good and bad practices to enable the democratisation of thermal energy.

This position paper was created with information and data facilitated to by Energie Samen, the federation of Dutch energy cooperatives. This data was complemented with interviews with energy communities working on heating and cooling in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.