Community energy refers to community ownership and participation in renewable energy initiatives. In certain countries such as Denmark, Germany and the UK, community energy initiatives such as energy cooperatives, have become commonplace. In Denmark and Germany, citizens and communities already own more than 50% of renewable energy production. Community energy initiatives have a good potential for growth also in Finland.
‘The growth of community energy projects is generally limited by external factors. The pioneering countries mentioned above also have practices and regulations that prevent an increase in the number of community energy projects. In Finland, this sector is not yet fully understood’, said Postdoctoral Researcher Salvatore Ruggiero from the Smart Energy Transition (SET) project at a seminar on the acceptance of local community energy projects. The seminar was organised on 21st of May by the School of Business’ CO2mmunity and SET projects.
Salvatore Ruggiero spoke also about the difference between acceptance and acceptability in community energy projects.
‘Acceptance refers to behaviour that enables, promotes and supports the use of technology, while acceptability refers to an attitude or a specific way of thinking. In order to accept renewable energy technologies, it is necessary to work on acceptability. In other words, it is important to engage local residents and other stakeholders during project planning and implementation. Participation and co-creation reduces local resistance towards renewable energy technology.’
Decentralised energy production should be supported
It is estimated that in Finland there are less than 100 community energy projects. Most of these concentrate on the production of heat from forest biomass.
According to Ruggiero, there are some crucial actions that need to be taken in order to promote a more decentralised production system, in which citizens and local communities take energy production in their own hands. ‘Our research shows that we need a clearer and more stable policy framework for investments in renewable energy, as many community energy investors make investment decisions for decades ahead.’
Most of the current community energy projects in Finland are carried out in rural areas, but there is an increasing number of housing companies that invest in solar electricity in urbanised areas.
‘Solar electricity produced by housing companies can be a viable energy solution. An example of housing company investing in solar panels is located in Pikku-Huopalahti, Helsinki. Originally, the idea of the housing company was to invest in a solar PV system that would produce electricity for the common parts of the building. However, later on the housing company had the possibility to join the FinSolar project (website only in Finnish) as a pilot project to test a new IT system that would allow the distribution of the solar electricity to the apartment owners. Such IT system works well but in order to make it feasible in real life metering regulation and electricity tax law need to change,’ said Salvatore Ruggiero.
Community energy initiatives can be promoted in Finland through dedicated support schemes such as state-guaranteed or low interest rate loans. These measures, among others, should be introduced to make decentralised energy production as easy and profitable as possible, which is important in the battle against climate change.
The material presented at the event can be found here: https://bit.ly/2HJIcoM
CO2mmunity- ja Smart Energy Transition (SET) projects organised a seminar on Tuesday 21 May. Taking place at the GE building in Vallila, Helsinki, and the event brought together approximately 70 experts on renewable energy use, mainly from the Nordic countries.
Karoliina Auvinen, [email protected], +358 504624727 or Allu Pyhälammi, [email protected]
Salvatore Ruggiero, [email protected] (in English)
The event was part of the official EU Green Week 2019. #EUGreenWeek