The RECAH team delivered five energy community workshops on behalf of DG Regio to empower the development of sustainable energy community projects across Europe.
The first three workshops focused on opportunities for setting up cross-border energy communities. This novel concept brought people together from both sides of the border in the areas selected to examine existing examples of cross-border energy communities, barriers, and opportunities for collaboration across the border. The Commission also presented existing tools supporting cross-border cooperation across Europe, such as Interreg programmes – including the capacity-building programme Interreg Europe - European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC), the Border Focal Point and the b-solutions initiative. A Handbook to accompany the development of cross-border energy communities and projects will be published in the second half of 2024.
‘Through the duration of the workshops, it became apparent that not only the participants but also the invited speakers would benefit… due to cross-border energy communities being such a new concept.’ – Henry Groenen, Senior Consultant, RECAH
The first workshop took place in Valga-Valka on the Estonia–Latvia border on 27 September. Presentations and discussions provided valuable information on the development framework and support to energy communities in both countries for new revitalisation perspectives in a region impacted by the depopulation phenomenon. In addition, the Tartu Regional Energy Agency made new ties with a Latvian energy expert and agreed to collaborate on realising a future EU-funded Interreg cross-border cooperation project.
The second cross-border workshop took place on the Spain–Portugal border at the University of Salamanca in Zamora on 4 October, inviting key actors from their respective countries to share comparisons of the legal status and existing projects across the area. A primary contribution to the workshop included the example of Efiduero, a cross-border energy community set up by the EGTC Duero-Douro. In this instance, the energy is produced on one side of the border and sold on both sides through Efiduero. The workshop explored the vital role of EGTCs as a legal entity and their ability to navigate initiatives that operate in border areas.
The final cross-border workshop took place in Strasbourg on 13 October, with speakers also invited from both sides of the border, including from Gecler, Bürger Voller Energie, Baden-Württemburg, and Collectivité européenne d'Alsace. This workshop provided a platform for the energy communities to learn more about communities and their operational framework on the other side of the border and to discuss cross-border opportunities to overcome respective obstacles. Among solutions, French communities were encouraged to reach out to established German cooperatives for assistance and knowledge sharing, and French authorities to map existing free roof space on their territory to attract investments from German communities and partners. It was noted that only 40 out of 147 secondary schools in the area were currently being utilised for PV. Another positive outcome of the workshop is the interest of French and German community representatives to concretely explore a partnership for a cross-border EU project (mobility).
The outcomes of these workshops will feed into the Commission’s work to support cross-border energy communities and projects.
The final two workshops had an in-country focus on Italy and Hungary. With help from the region of Emilia-Romagna, the RECAH team organised a workshop drawing 70 participants to Bologna for the Italy workshop. The workshop acknowledged the various supports in place in Emilia-Romagna, including the funding available for feasibility studies for energy communities, and presented other topics such as the future role of Agri-voltaics, the vital role municipalities can play in energy communities, and the concept of energy sharing for collective self-consumption and feed-in tariffs for renewable energy.
The final workshop for Hungary took place online. The participants benefited greatly from an introduction to the current legislative state of play, as Hungary is yet to transpose the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) into national law. Through best practices and experiences from existing examples in Hungary, the workshop facilitated further exploration of the opportunities and barriers that prospective energy communities face. Overall, participants and speakers expressed their gratitude that the workshops had taken place and thought they would form the basis for further engagement on the topic of energy communities.
Energy communities and other actors looking for collaboration opportunities should register to join the RECAH network to receive information about energy communities, organisations, initiatives, or experts across Europe who have opted to share their details with the network.
- Publication date
- 25 October 2023
- Directorate-General for Energy