Energy communities have become a popular concept that has been gaining momentum in recent years. These communities are creating a sustainable future by using renewable energy sources and reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. Scaling up these communities can be challenging, but it is necessary to make a significant impact. In this blog post, we discuss what is necessary to scale up energy communities and some examples of successful scaling.
To scale up energy communities, funding is essential. Many communities do not have the financial resources to invest in renewable energy sources or hire professionals to manage their systems. Governments and private investors must provide resources to develop and maintain community energy projects. Grants, loans, and other incentives are necessary to help finance these projects. What shall be considered from an energy communities point of view is to be clear about pricing to avoid funding gaps. Such funding gaps result from cheap energy supply or spikes in costs for maintenance necessary for the operation of renewable energy plants.
Public support is critical to scaling up energy communities. Residents must be aware of the benefits of renewable energy and the importance of reducing carbon emissions. Interviews with TANDEMS partners have shown that public support varies over time. It is not a constant that energy communities could build on. Also, the interviews have shown that citizens are more likely to kick off interaction with energy communities if approached by a representative whom they can identify with. Finally, communities must educate their residents on the benefits and challenges of renewable energy in the long term. When people understand the benefits, they are more likely to support community energy projects in their upscaling.
Scaling up energy communities requires technical expertise to plan, design and implement renewable energy systems. This can be achieved using external partners or sustainability consultants such as Robin Doet; a company that develops and supervises sustainability projects. Indeed it provides advice on policy and pushes potential policy changes to enable the creation of energy communities.
Furthermore, training programs build local expertise on how to ensure the sustainability of energy communities. This is exactly why in TANDEMS we implement train-the-trainer workshops.
Scaling up energy communities is essential to achieve a sustainable future. It requires funding, public support, and technical expertise. Examples of successful scaling demonstrate the potential to build such a cleaner and greener future. Day by day there are more people being involved in community-driven energy supply. So long this is true for Northern America and Europe. To facilitate a just energy transition for all, we should not forget about promoting decentralized and non-profit approaches to energy supply in the global South. The vision must be to ensure all future generations can afford and enjoy a cleaner and more sustainable tomorrow.