We are currently witnessing a profound transformation of the global energy model, driven by the need to curb the steady increase in the Earth’s temperature caused by climate change. The EU´s commitment to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and to reduce GHG emissions to 55% of 1990 levels by 20301 means a huge challenge and requires a radical shift from a traditional centralised, fossil fuel-based energy system to a decentralised, decarbonised and renewable energy system.

In this context, the figure of Energy Communities emerges as a key actor that promotes the territorial deployment of renewable energies, empowers citizens and facilitates the generation of new services, consolidating local economies and fighting against energy poverty and climate change.

How can an Energy Community be set up?

In most cases they are generated by a group of citizens with support of a public entity. This support can come through the transfer of land or a building roof for the installation of photovoltaic panels for collective self-consumption. But something more is needed, it must be given a legal aspect. In this sense, there are two types, Renewable Energy Communities (REC)2 and Citizen Energy Community (CEC)3 . REC is focused on the production and consumption of renewable energy, while CEC is more aimen at the electricity sector, inlcuding electricity agreggation and storage, as well as the provision of recharging and energy efficiency services.

Next step is to decide what type of legal entity best meets the community needs. The options are: cooperative, association or commercial company (S.L or S.A), the first two being the most common, and in particular, the association, the simplest to implement because it does not require a public deed to be constituted. A constitution agreement is made between three or more natural or legal persons, and a founding act is drawn up. In addition, it has the advantage that the participation of its members is open and voluntary, with no minimum capital requirement.

Finally, nothing would make sense if there is no concrete project behind it. This could be collective self-consumption, a heating and cooling network, a citizen photovoltaic park, the provision of energy services, shared electric mobility or electric vehicle charging services, mainly.

To make any of these projects a reality, technology plays a key role. It is about to electrifying the grid without using fossil fuels and Energy Communities are a very valuable tool to change the current energy system and move in the direction of energy transition ,promoting distributed generation. Renewable generation technologies are already mature and are constantly evolving. Storage batteries, an indispensable complement to renewable generation, are competitive and constantly improving. In addition, smart management tools allow Energy Communities to be independent from the grid thanks to the intelligent data management and the implementation of decision-making tools based on Artificial Intelligence, machine-learning and predictive knowledge of user behaviour, environmental, socio-economic and electricity system elements.

1 https://www.consilium.europa.eu/es/policies/green-deal/fit-for-55-the-eu-plan-for-a-green-transition/

2 Directiva UE 2018/2001, de 11 de diciembre de 2018, relativa al fomento del uso de energía procedente de fuentes renovables.

3 Directiva UE 2019/944, de 5 de junio de 2019, sobre normas comunes para el mercado interior de la electricidad.

María Ángeles Gallego de Santiago
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