As community renewables
grow in western Europe, what about central and eastern regions?
A socially fair energy transformation
means putting renewable energy into the hands of communities and people. The
transition to 100% renewable energy, must benefit people too – not just big
corporations - we must take power back from Big Energy. Big energy companies
have consistently acted in their own financial interest, instead of the planet
and sharing the wealth from renewable energy with communities.
All over Europe, but particularly in
western European countries, this democratic energy transformation is gaining
momentum. Individuals, communities, cities and local authorities are at the
vanguard of Europe’s energy transition: they are increasingly controlling and
producing their own renewable energy, and fostering the transition to fairer,
democratic and decentralised energy. But in central and eastern European
countries the picture looks very different.
A different picture in
central and eastern Europe
In central and eastern Europe, some
countries have seen a pause in installing renewable energy. And community
energy projects hardly exist – and face major challenges. ‘Community’ can even
be a dirty word.
This needs to change. Particularly
because community and municipal owned renewable energy schemes can be more
popular than corporate renewable farms.
This was the basis of a workshop in
Hungary this November.
renewables in the East
On day one, MTVSZ/Friends of the Earth Hungary hosted a gathering for a
number of Hungarian community energy enthusiasts, FoE groups, and community
energy allies in Budapest: to share expertise and intelligence on creating the
right legal framework for community energy.
It drew on brilliant examples from Spain,
Austria, Scotland, Czech Republic and Germany including Bündnis Bürgerenergie and ourpower, and legal expertise of RESCoop.eu (the representative organisation of renewable energy
cooperatives across Europe). RESCoop.eu guided participants
through the processes of transposing to national level new EU Renewable Energy
Directive rights for community renewable energy, and the development national
energy and climate plans. The Renewable Energy Directive is important for setting
a new direction for people's ownership of energy. Creating nationally relevant
definitions of community energy and creating an enabling framework could be
crucial to unlocking community energy across the east of Europe. Greece is
leading with some positive examples.
At today's Community Energy Public
Forum in #Budapest
Stefan Bundscherer, Director of #EUKI:
creates jobs and is socially just. It invites the whole of society to engage
For more info on the organising project https://t.co/xW5011K8x7
— European Climate Initiative
(@EUKI_Climate) November 14, 2019
On day two, MTVSZ/Friends of the
Earth Hungary organised a public forum for Hungarian stakeholders including the
Hungarian government, local municipalities, energy authorities, renewable
energy business associations, NGOs, and enthusiasts – to inspire action to
transform Hungary’s energy model.
The forum focused on key challenges
and solutions for community energy and on the needed changes in domestic
regulations, in the energy market, and support for community projects. The
event was opened by EUKI Director Stefan Bundscherer; and drew on experiences
of community energy from REScoopEU, Bündnis Bürgerenergie, Leeds
Beckett University and OurPower.coop.
They recommended a clear, inclusive
legal definition tailored to national context; fair support schemes for
community energy; simple regulatory frameworks for collective self-consumption
and energy sharing; and an open and participatory national assessment of
potential for and barriers to building renewable energy communities. The
Hungarian energy ministry presented their plans and reacted openly and
positively to given recommendations.
These best practices and
recommendations will be immediately used by Friends of the Earth Hungary and
their allies in advocating for the potential of community renewables to be
unleashed in Hungary.
All parameters are there. But it will
take time and public awareness efforts to overcome barriers and unfold the
potential in Hungary and other central-eastern countries.
The transition to 100% renewable
energy, must benefit people too – not just big corporations.