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Covenant of Mayors - Europe
News article8 May 2023

What supporting mechanisms exist to help local governments facilitate the creation of energy communities in their cities?

Discover the tools and mechanisms presented during the launch of the LIFE-BECKON project, a project aimed at supporting local and regional authorities deploy energy communities.

Solar panel and people - Markus Spiske

Energy communities are groups of citizens, businesses, and local authorities that come together to produce, consume, and share renewable energy. In cities' transition towards sustainable energy sources, energy communities have an essential role to play. Local governments are instrumental in facilitating the creation of such communities.

There are several tools and mechanisms available to help local governments set up energy communities. Here are some of the key tools discussed in our most recent webinar, "Supporting mechanisms for local authorities to deploy energy communities".

Tools being developed in the LIFE-BECKON Project

A few tools are currently being developed as part of the LIFE-BECKON project, just recently launched.

The Technical Assistance Cookbook: This is a guidebook that provides technical assistance to cities and communities that want to set up energy communities. It includes practical advice on legal and administrative procedures, governance, financing, and communication.

Capacity Building Program: This program provides training and capacity-building opportunities to local authorities, citizens, and businesses. It aims to empower communities to take an active role in the energy transition.

Online One-Stop-Shop Platform: This platform is being developed and tested in the three pilot areas of Copenhagen, Sofia, and Diputación de Ávila. The platform provides a range of services, including technical assistance, financing advice, and project management support.

EU Legislation and Initiatives for Energy Communities

The Clean energy for all Europeans package promotes energy communities as a social concept, aiming to bring social and environmental benefits to the local areas, rather than financial profits. 

The EU solar energy strategy, one of the key policy instruments of REPowerEU, contains measures to accelerate the roll-out of solar energy to increase the capacity to 600 GW by 2030, including the launch of the Energy communities facility, with grants for energy communities to elaborate investment plans to realise renewable energy projects (expected to be launched by 2024).

The Energy Communities Repository

The Energy Communities Repository offers support to communities and local authorities through policy analysis, mapping, and impact assessment. It also provides technical assistance to help communities set up legal structures, governance systems, investment campaigns, and financing plans. Currently, 70 communities are receiving this technical assistance. 

Learning from the LIFE-BECKON Pilot Areas: Copenhagen (DK), Sofia (BG), and Diputación de Ávila (ES).

The three pilot areas of the LIFE-BECKON project face different challenges and opportunities regarding the development of energy communities.

In Bulgaria, although there is no clear legal definition of energy communities and prosumers, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan provides financing opportunities for renewable energy projects. Additionally, there are already some useful tools available, such as a digital platform developed for the Solar Cities project.

Denmark is facing regulatory and taxation challenges that are still hindering the development of energy communities. Nevertheless, the City of Copenhagen is committed to climate neutrality and is promoting the development of citizen action plans for energy communities through a place-based approach, including cross-sectoral cooperation, top-down and bottom-up governance processes, and public grants.

In Spain, energy communities are facing legal and regulatory uncertainty, lack of standardisation, complex administrative procedures, inadequate support from competent authorities, and limited access to financing. However, at the local level, county government, such as Diputación de Ávila, is support three small municipalities (Mediana de Voltoya, El Barco de Ávila and Sotillo de la Adrada, all signatories of the Covenant of Mayors) to deploy the first energy communities in the county.

To find out more, rewatch the webinar-launch of the LIFE-BECKON project here and download the webinar presentations here.

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* The LIFE-BECKON project stimulates and boosts the deployment of Energy Communities across Europe by developing and delivering comprehensive support mechanisms for public authorities.

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8 May 2023