Date: 25 October 2023
CEE Bankwatch Network, Polish Green Network (PGN) and REScoop.eu organised a webinar on the selection criteria for energy communities to receive EU funding.
Participants in the webinar discussed the possibilities of financing energy communities from currently available EU funds.
In this EU financial perspective, cooperatives and other forms of energy communities will be able to receive EU funding. However, we are aware, and we can see this in the first examples, that the topic of energy communities is new and not very well known. This makes it difficult for the managing authorities of the funds to prepare good and effective selection criteria.
‘As the Polish Green Network, we will try to support this work, both at national and regional levels.’ – said Zuzanna Sasiak of the PGN, coordinator of the CERV project, and previously long-time coordinator of the civic energy campaign, More than Energy.
The project selection criteria that Zuzanna Sasiak spoke about were presented during the webinar. NGOs associated with civic energy and RES issues would like the rules of the game to reward truly grassroots, civic energy cooperative projects.
‘We need to remember that the goal of an energy community should not be primarily profit, as in the case of energy trading companies. Its goal should be affordable, clean, local energy—the energy that is widely available to local people, an energy that drives the local economy. Energy communities also help build civic bonds and increase public acceptance of renewable energy sources. It is these goals, not profit, that determine the success of a cooperative. It is crucial that management institutions, whether in the Union or in the Member States, are aware of this.’ – emphasised Christoph Jost, Senior EU Policy Officer at CEE Bankwatch Network.
The discussion had international themes. The war in Ukraine has brought us into a turbulent and unstable era. It has also revealed the weakness of centralised energy systems.
‘Hopefully, this nightmare will soon be over, and the green reconstruction of Ukraine will begin. Our colleagues at CEE Bankwatch Network and other organisations are working to ensure that the financial instruments that will rebuild Ukraine support a civic transformation, including energy communities.’ – said webinar presenter Krzysztof Mrozek, programme manager of European Funds for Climate at PGN.
Chris Vrettos, project manager at REScoop.eu, also set the webinar discussion in an international context: ‘We have gathered here from Greece to Ireland. This shows that this topic is important and increasingly popular. When people first hear about energy communities or about setting up energy cooperatives, they often consider it a romantic idea, a utopia. Meanwhile, it is a very rational and civic model. Distributed energy is inexpensive and resilient to crises such as the war in Ukraine or the recent tragic events in Israel and Gaza.’
The webinar was attended by people from all over Europe interested in energy communities, members of existing cooperatives and those interested in planning and spending EU funds.