Based on 3 years of research on the role of new clean energy communities in the European energy transitions – What steps does the NEWCOMERS consortium recommend policy makers to take?
The consortium underpins its final recommendations with three key principles: Recognise, Prioritise and Simplify.
With “recognise”, the consortium wants to draw attention to the fact that clean energy communities offer multiple benefits to their members, which should receive political recognition. This includes social benefits of engagement with energy communities (e.g. community spirit, social recognition and social approval, connecting and acting with like-minded people), political aspects (e.g. self-sufficiency and energy independence), and also aspects of personal development (e.g. acquiring specific skills and knowledge). Policy makers at all levels should clearly recognize these benefits as a contribution to their jurisdiction.
With “prioritise”, we encourage policy makers to prioritise energy communities in supportive policies and formal legislation. This starts with clear and nationally adapted definitions of the term energy community to provide legal clarity and also includes supportive policies and legislation that are explicitly targeted at energy communities. Further support could be given by formulating explicit targets for energy communities and by offering preferential treatment of and dedicated incentives for energy communities. Instead of only levelling the playing field with incumbent actors, a preferential regulatory treatment of clean energy communities would demonstrate a strong commitment to fostering social innovation in the energy transitions.
With “simplify”, the consortium would like to flag that many energy communities, especially those initiated by volunteers with limited finances and capacities to seek legal advice, experience bureaucracy, legislative and administrative burdens as barriers to their emergence and development. Policy makers should therefore make efforts to simplify administrative and regulatory requirements for energy communities as much as possible, and to offer clear information and support services to those who aim to set up and scale clean energy communities.
For the detailed NEWCOMERs policy recommendations, read the full document here.