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Consumer Stock Ownership Plans (CSOPs)—The Prototype Business Model for Renewable Energy Communities 

Written by Jens Lowitzsch.
The article was published in Energies 2020, 13.


The 2018 recast of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) defines “renewable energy communities” (RECs), introducing a new governance model and the possibility of energy sharing for them. It has to be transposed into national law by all European Union Member States until June 2021. This article introduces consumer stock ownership plans (CSOPs) as the prototype business model for RECs. Based on the analysis of a dataset of 67 best-practice cases of consumer (co-) ownership from 18 countries it demonstrates the importance of flexibility of business models to include heterogeneous co-investors for meeting the requirements of the RED II and that of RE clusters. It is shown that CSOPs—designed to facilitate scalable investments in utilities—facilitate co-investments by municipalities, SMEs, plant engineers or energy suppliers. A low-threshold financing method, they enable individuals, in particular low-income households, to invest in renewable projects. Employing one bank loan instead of many micro loans, CSOPs reduce transaction costs and enable consumers to acquire productive capital, providing them with an additional source of income. Stressing the importance of a holistic approach including the governance and the technical side for the acceptance of RECs on the energy markets recommendations for the transposition are formulated.

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