On 29 September, our #EUSEW2022 policy session took place, co-organised with Solar Heat Europe and Energy Cities.
Moderated by Marisol Oropeza from matters.mx who is an expert in public policies and renewable energies, policy makers with years of experience in the topic of energy communities, representatives of local authorities as well as experts from local energy cooperatives and local companies supplying local renewable heat were sharing their knowledge and insights on the deployment of energy communities.
Adela Tesarova, Head of Unit for Consumers, Local Initiatives, Just Transition in DG ENER at the European Commission pointed out that the energy transition needs to be local, otherwise it is challenging to make it happen. She further underlined the importance of affordability of energy as one of the main factors why people would join local energy initiatives.
Josh Roberts, Senior Policy Advisor at REScoop.eu added that if you can ensure secure and local supply, the affordability of energy automatically comes with it. On top of this, he pointed out, that it is not always easy to include everyone in energy communities, as many people don't feel that they fit in an energy community, hence, support of these people is needed.
The current crisis will teach us to find more smart solutions and how to better take action at the local level, said Ina Berzina-Veita from Salaspils Siltums, SIA. The most important part in local energy communities are the people who take initiative. An active community can make an idea of local energy project a reality.
Dries Vleugels from the city of Leuven underlined that sustainable supply, affordability, local employment and energy independence are all crucial aspects. He also pointed out that compared to bigger governments, small administrations are more flexible and collaboration between departments is more easily facilitated in order to succeed in the energy transition on a local level.
Heleen Schockaert from REScoop.eu concluded that all various aspects need to be considered and added that skill development, learning together and local cohesion also play key roles. She further highlighted that there is a lack of engagement and empowerment of the most vulnerable consumers. They should be included in the decisions. On top of this, vulnerable people are more reluctant to join energy communities and therefore cannot fully benefit from them.
Overall, the speakers agreed that local energy communities are crucial for a green and just transition and that in the current situation, the most important aspect these communities bring with them is energy security and energy independence.