Exploring Institutional and Socio-Economic Settings for the Development of Energy Communities in Europe

Alessandro Sciullo*, Gregory Winston Gilcrease, Mario Perugini, Dario Padovan, Barbara Curli, Jay Sterling Gregg, Osman Arrobbio, Erika Meynaerts, Sarah Delvaux, Lucia Polo-Alvarez, Chiara Candelise, Esther van der Waal, Henny van der Windt, Wit Hubert, Nele Ivask, Marek Muiste

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Energy communities (ECs), intended as collective action initiatives in the energy field involving citizens’ participation, have been gaining relevance for the past decades as an alternative way to organize the energy chain to challenge the incumbent system. With Europe’s recently adopted Clean Energy Package, ECs found a formal recognition by the European Union as potential actors of the transition of the energy system towards a wider and more decentralized use of renewable sources. Although the potential role of ECs in the transition is therefore hardly questionable, a thorough comprehension of the enabling factors that might foster their diffusion and scaling up is still lacking. Through a comparative analysis of the evolutionary trajectories in six EU countries regarding their energy systems, their regulatory frameworks and their historical evolution of ECs, namely through the example of cooperative models, this paper aims at providing some preliminary evidence about the factors and dynamics that seem to have played, and may play, a role in hampering or facilitating EC model diffusion. Attention is therefore specifically paid to three dimensions of analysis referring to: the energy mix and market structure; the institutional and policy landscape; the wider social attitudes towards environmental issues and cooperation among citizens. In addition to providing a wide comparison of different EU countries, the paper shows that the historical evolution pathways have to be carefully taken into account to understand what might trigger ECs exploitation in the EU.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1597
JournalEnergies
Volume15
Issue number4
Number of pages22
ISSN1996-1073
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research has received funding from the H2020 project COMETS—Collective Action Models for Energy Transition and Social Innovation (GA 837722).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Comparative analysis
  • Energy communities
  • Energy systems
  • Energy transition
  • Regulatory framework
  • Renewable energy sources

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