The evolution of EU legislation on energy communities since the Clean Energy Package in 2019

The EU has made significant progress in recognizing and empowering energy communities, acknowledging their vital role in the clean energy transition. Since the introduction of the Clean Energy Package in 2019, the EU has introduced legislation that recognizes energy communities’ roles in various activities beyond renewable energy projects. These include renovations, alleviating energy poverty, energy efficiency, offshore wind, and heating and cooling initiatives. Energy communities are now empowered to take ownership of renewables and collaborate on the local energy transition, rather than exclusively depending on corporations.

Despite barriers such as grid access issues, lack of funding, and complex administrative procedures, many Member States have made progress in transposing EU provisions into national legislation. The revised Renewable Energy Directive recognizes the role of energy communities in improving public acceptance of the energy transition, such as through citizen participation in offshore wind projects. Belgium stands out as an example, with a law requiring a minimum of 1% citizen participation in the capital of offshore wind projects and allocating 10% of the tender criteria to citizen participation.

The potential of community energy is significant, with estimates that around 45% of renewable energy production in the EU could come from citizens by 20501. Moving forward, the EU needs to ensure full and effective implementation of the rules to create robust regulatory and enabling frameworks that remove obstacles for citizens and level the playing field for energy communities.

Future directions include direct citizen ownership in renewable energy projects, full and effective implementation of EU rules, and the development of an EU-level strategy supporting energy communities across various policy areas. Authors emphasize the importance of citizen collaboration in the energy transition and recommend various resources for policymakers to support the development of energy communities.

Zia Lennard, R2M Solution France

Image credit: Caramizaru, A. and Uihlein, A., Energy communities: an overview of energy and social innovation, EUR 30083 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-10713-2, doi:10.2760/180576 (, JRC119433. authorised under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)