Facilitation local energy communities: Leiedal takes up the challenge

28 October 2021 - Published by Dominique Dhondt

The European Union wants to empower groups of citizens to become “Energy Communities”. To make this possible in the today energy market, the EU updated two directives: Directive on common rules for the internal electricity market (EU) 2019/944 and the recast Renewable Energy Directive 2018/2001/EU. Now Member States are implementing this brand new concept in national legislation.

The European Commission says: Energy communities organise collective and citizen-driven energy actions that will help pave the way for a clean energy transition, while moving citizens to the fore. They contribute to increase public acceptance of renewable energy projects and make it easier to attract private investments in the clean energy transition. At the same time, they have the potential to provide direct benefits to citizens by advancing energy efficiency and lowering their electricity bills. By supporting citizen participation, energy communities can moreover help in providing flexibility to the electricity system through demand-response and storage. (https://ec.europa.eu/energy/topics/markets-and-consumers/energy-communities_en)

But will citizens stand up tomorrow to make use of this new concept? Today still some important barriers remain and substantial knowhow is required to succeed. The EPOWER 2.0 partner Leiedal wants to tackle this challenge on a regional scale and reinforce the power of local authorities. It proposed to develop a regional supporting framework with key stakeholders. Now Leiedal is assigned by the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities and the Flemish government for a so-called “breakthrough project”: a living lab for the development of this new type of policy. Leiedal is recognised in Flanders as a frontrunner in regional development and holds knowledge on energy communities via the EMPOWER 2.0 project.