Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy has submitted a draft bill for the establishment of energy communities (cooperatives), aiming to encourage switch to renewable energy sources, and to provide decentralized electricity production.
The draft was submitted to the parliament for ratification earlier this week and the debate started this Thursday, according to Greek media.
The Ministry of Energy started drafting this document earlier this year, and since then had been working on it together with the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE), the Electricity Market Operator LAGIE, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO), and the Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (KAPE).
The Ministry’s initiative sees energy communities as a way of decentralize and locally generate energy solutions, and suggests to citizens, local authorities and private and public agencies to participate in the production, distribution and supply of energy. Basically, the draft law gives to electricity consumers a possibility to become electricity producers.
Energy communities will be able to produce, sell or self-consume electricity and thermal energy produced by renewable energy sources’ facilities such as wind and photovoltaic units, or biogas and biomass units. Communities will be active in the fields of renewable energy, high efficiency cogeneration and heat, rational use of energy, energy efficiency, sustainable land transport, demand management, and energy production, distribution and supply at local and regional level.
Based on the draft, local energy communities will be allowed to develop and lease distribution networks, while renewable energy communities will be able to produce, consume, store and sell renewable energy without disproportionate charges that do not correlate with real costs. Small and medium-sized enterprises could reduce their energy costs while private consumers will be able to cut their energy costs.
Energy communities – legal framework
The bill for energy communities also promises, according to EnergyPress, to enable local and regional authorities to establish localized energy policies for energy poverty, promotion of electric vehicle usage, and other issues related to local energy management. They will be able to operate as for-profit companies but also as non-profit organizations, in which case the profit will be utilized to fund new community projects.
Although energy communities – or energy cooperatives – already exists in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, UK, Spain and France, the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy says that Greece is the first country in Europe that establishes a transparent framework for the operation of the energy communities, according to Greek portal Naftemporiki.
The main objectives behind the draft law are to support innovations, improve energy efficiency, enhance the penetration of renewable energy sources (RES) and self-production, increase the local acceptance of RES projects, reduce energy costs for households and small and medium-sized businesses, and to strengthen solidarity and the social economy.
Greek Government wants its energy cooperatives initiative to become a part of its social policy, which will promote right to chose as a form of protection for smaller investors against bigger ones. Market experts believe that energy cooperatives could encourage investment activity in sector of renewables, but also support tools as net metering, virtual net metering and smart power meters.