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Feeding bees according to desired honey type: tailoring support for European Energy Communities to their function to escape the energy trilemma

Written by Jens Lowitzsch, Carsten Croonenbroeck, Riccardo Novo
The article was published in Energy Research & Social Science Volume 114, August 2024, 103579


Energy Communities must comply with the governance rules stipulated in the Renewable Energy Directive II and the Internal Electricity Market Directive if they wish to qualify as Renewable Energy Community or Citizen Energy Community respectively. However, when transposing the directives into national law Members States amongst other have digression to spell out support measures for energy communities in an “enabling framework”. This gap between binding aims of the directives and their governance model on the one side and national priorities and goals on the other side raises the question of how to best design support measures. Against this background we propose a categorisation of Energy Communities into nine classes according to their functional context to better match support measures with national policy priorities. We argue that independently of the governance prerequisites, support measures need to be tailored to the functional context of the Energy Community concerned, depending on what it is expected to deliver. Drawing on the National Energy and Climate Plans and the literature we show that, at the same time, the expectations of policy making vary from country to country and sometimes are not even congruent with the actual practice within a country. Deducting from to the energy trilemma and to provide a basis for decision making we develop three perspectives of analysis reflecting the – sometimes conflicting – policy dimensions on which the fields of delivery for Energy Communities hinge, namely, (i) Energy Equity; (ii) Environmental Sustainability; and (iii) Energy Security. Finally, we suggest key performance indicators to assess best practice for their support. Emphasising the different levels of readiness of ECs across Europe we stress that assistance and support should follow function rather than legal form.

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