Insightful discussions in the last LIFE CET energy community projects’ gathering

The LIFE Clean Energy Transition (CET) Programme Contractors’ meeting on Energy Communities was successfully held on 13th and 14the of March 2024 in Brussels.

Insightful discussions in the last LIFE CET energy community projects’ gathering

Organised by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), the meeting gathered 58 participants, out of which 44 were project representatives from 15 on-going projects related to energy communities with the aim to exchange and identify cooperation opportunities.

“It is a pleasure for me to be here with you today to open this Contractors meeting. Energy communities can help citizens, small businesses and local authorities invest in renewables and energy efficiency. Community-owned projects can allow citizens to finance sustainable energy investments that deliver local economic benefits, social cohesion, and sometimes address other priorities such as improving the energy efficiency of housing or reducing energy poverty”, introduced Hans Rhein, Head of CINEA’s LIFE Energy & Climate Unit to open the event.

After the opening, Achille Hannoset and Vera Kissler (DG ENER) updated the participants on the latest energy policy developments related to communities. Their presentation was followed by Delia Bonsignore’s (DG REGIO) who shared opportunities for communities in the context of the EU’s Cohesion Policy and her work on the handbook for cross-border energy communities.

The meeting also allowed some EU initiatives in the area of community energy to share their results and progress. Elodie Bossio (FEDARENE) presented the key outcomes and learnings from the Energy Communities Repository and Henry Groenen (Ricardo EE) those of the Rural Energy Communities Advisory Hub. The Support Service for Citizen-Led Renovation was discussed by Leen Peeters (Th!nk E). And CINEA shared some information about the upcoming Energy Communities Facility.

As well as plenary presentations, the event provided ample time for participants to exchange in breakout rooms on the outcomes of their projects and other various topics. On the first day, four topics of common interest were discussed: capacity building, financing, one-stops shops and energy poverty. On the second day, participants were allowed to suggest topics for parallel discussions in an open space format. The issues discussed included energy sharing, district heating, the partnership model between municipalities and energy communities, and the training needs of public authorities or inclusivity. In addition, there was a plenary exchange moderated by Sofia Corsi (Energy Cities) on how to foster synergies among projects.

Partners from both ISLET and ConnectHeat took part in these interactive sessions to represent their projects. It was a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas and to learn from peer projects.

The last session of the event was devoted to feedback to the European Commission. DG ENER collected inputs from projects on the policy needs of energy communities and CINEA gathered insights related to the future funding needs for community energy. The event was officially closed by Maria Laguna, Head of CINEA’s Consumers, Built Environment, Products & Industry Sector. “At CINEA, we are very satisfied with the quality of our discussions over the past days. In particular, we thank you for all your inputs during the last session related to our future funding priorities. The agency works closely with our colleagues from DG ENER to craft calls for funding that respond both to policy needs and to the needs of energy communities on the ground. Thus, please keep on sharing your thoughts with us”, concluded Ms. Laguna while also reminding participants that the 2024 LIFE CET Call will open on the 18th of April and the InfoDay will take place on the 25th.