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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This research has received funding from the H2020 project COMETS—Collective Action Models for Energy Transition and Social Innovation (GA 837722).
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- Comparative analysis
- Energy communities
- Energy systems
- Energy transition
- Regulatory framework
- Renewable energy sources