Also published on https://caneurope.org/advancing-community-energy/
We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Community Power Coalition, an alliance of more than 50 organisations advocating for community energy from across Europe.
Once a niche idea, recently the community energy movement has gained support and leverage across Europe. How come? People have been realising that the current energy system is not delivering for them and the planet. They have also been feeling a pressing need for concrete and bold climate and energy solutions. Citizens, grassroots organisers, activists of many environmental organisations have driven the movement and tirelessly dedicated their work to raise awareness and bring political action. This, ultimately has been changing the landscape for energy communities to be able to develop and prosper. Among these champions stands the European Community Power Coalition.
From a “People’s Windmill” to the Clean Energy Package provisions
Rewind 10 years: In November 2013, Friends of the Earth Europe, Climate Alliance, Climate Action Network Europe, Ecopower, ICLEI Europe, Energent, and RESCOOP.eu brought together more than 150 people to form a “People’s windmill”. This enormous, colourful performance called for EU policymakers to put citizen and community-controlled renewables at the centre of Europe’s energy policy. The collective stunt kicked off countless activities, organising and campaigning to make sure that decision makers and people were made aware of the potential and benefits that community-owned projects could bring for citizens and for the energy transition.
And the campaign bore fruits. In 2016, the European Commission published the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, consisting of eight laws aimed at reforming the energy policy framework and delivering on the Paris Climate Agreement. This opportunity opened the door to push for legal recognition and regulatory support for Community Energy, an opportunity that the Coalition seized upon and actively advocated for within the European Commission to recognise its potential and benefits.
Resulting from the coalition’s efforts, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), published in 2018 and entered into force in 2019, incorporated the community energy provisions. It established a new right for communities, cooperatives, and individuals to produce, consume, store, and sell their own renewable energy without facing excessive charges or administrative barriers. Furthermore, it clearly defined the concepts of Citizen Energy Communities and Renewable Energy Communities as organisational entities.
Celebrating 10 years of achievements
Over the past decade, the coalition has grown to more than 50 organisations bound by a shared vision and united purpose – to mainstream community energy as a people centered, democratic and climate-friendly solution.. Today, it is a strong alliance of EU-based members such as Friends of the Earth Europe, CAN Europe, RESCoop, and national organisations, associations and cooperatives spread out to more than 20 countries in Europe. The significant achievements of the past 10 years are clearly reflected in the increasing uptake of community energy projects across Europe, and the increasing number of events bringing together new ideas and people. On the 21st of September coalition members and allies celebrated the10 year anniversary, acknowledging those who enabled reaching this milestone, and to set the tone for the future.
The event was co-hosted by MEP Nicolás González Casares, to whom the coalition presented a “Community Energy Supporter Award” to honor his work on the Electricity Market Design directive.
The future of energy communities
As we enter the defining years to implement Europe’s climate policies, the 2024 European elections are poised to be a crucial moment.. To further support the future of energy communities, the coalition gathered key demands in a manifesto for the elections, that (still) need to be addressed by the European Commission and the Member States.
“A decentralised and 100% renewable energy system that prioritises the needs and participation of people is not only possible, it is imperative.”
Part of the key demands rest on the full transposition and implementation of the community energy provisions introduced in the Clean Energy packages. At the moment, several member states still lack this, and have not put in place the right enabling frameworks for citizens to actually make use of those provisions to start their energy community projects.
We’re urging policy makers to integrate these points into their election campaigns and implement them. Here’s to another decade (and more) of community energy!