EU Horizon 2020 Programme

ECI lead: Dr Sarah Darby | Researcher: Dr Jake Barnes

NEWCOMERS researchers from six European countries worked with clean energy communities and explored how they engage citizens, create value and share learning. Our aim was to identify sustainable business models that are attractive to citizens and have the potential to scale-up.

Our work

Community renewable energy projects are increasingly commonplace in European countries. However, their ability to scale up is limited, partly because of the withdrawal or phasing out of feed-in tariff schemes and similar policies. Meanwhile, the EU has placed citizens at the heart of future energy systems and pinned high hopes on the continued development and diffusion of energy communities.

To survive and flourish in this conflicting policy environment, communities will need to demonstrate ingenuity and perseverance. New business models are emerging. These often involve a greater diversity of actors in new partnerships and coalitions. They typically employ a variety of technologies in novel combinations and aim to create new value beyond the production of renewable energy. As yet, we know little about what benefits they bring to energy community members and society at large, and it is hard to estimate their potential.

Dr Sarah Darby and Dr Jake Barnes lead the analysis of community business models through case studies in the six countries, focusing on the socio-technical elements of each model, the types of value derived, and the ways value is distributed. The research will analyse the contexts from which each energy community emerged, and in particular demand response – the management of demand to match available supply – as it is a less-often studied element in real-life situations.

Selected publications

External team

Dr Julia Blasch
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Consortium partners

  • University of Lund, Sweden
  • University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • National Research Council of Italy
  • Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, Germany
  • GEN-I