Advancing the energy transition: the European legal framework for the implementation of energy communities

By Carlos Soria-Rodríguez, Ólöf Söebech, Laura Iozzelli, Sebastian Oberthür, and Jesus Enrique Moreno

About this report

This report was developed within the context of ROLECS – Roll Out of Local Energy Communities – a FLUX50 VLAIO funded research project that ran from 2019-2021. A cooperation between several Flemish research institutes active in the energy sectors, including the Brussels School of Governance (BSoG), and 25 companies, ROLECS has worked towards gaining a deeper understanding and maximizing the potential of Energy Communities for advancing renewable energy and the energy transition. These communities, following up on EU policy on energy, create a landscape that is potentially more sustainable and offers active participation of the end-consumer/producer (the so-called prosumer). 

Against this backdrop, the report aims to explore the impact of existing European legislation on the implementation of Energy Communities in Member States from a legal perspective. More specifically, its objective is to identify legislative barriers by exploring the potential legal structure of Energy Communities and the interaction with existing legislation.

The report delivers an analysis of the European legislative framework where the relevant EU directives are explained, an overview is provided of how they could be interpreted, the possible implications of these directives on states and on energy communities explored, as well as an identification of some of the obstacles or opportunities faced by Member States and energy communities when these directives are transposed into national law. The report explores the current relevant EU regulatory framework for energy communities in three main steps:

1.     It introduces Renewable Energy Communities (RECs) and Citizen Energy Communities (CECs) by examining their purpose and key definitional elements under the existing legal framework, addressing both the elements common to RECs and CECs and their exclusive features.

2.     It identifies the legal obligations of MS to foster RECs and CECs as well as challenges faced by MS for the development and implementation of energy communities at national level.

3.     It presents and reflects on some of the general challenges and regulatory barriers to the implementation of ECs while also illustrating how the current regulatory framework addresses those challenges and barriers.