Pluralising the European energy landscape: Collective renewable energy prosumers and the EU’s clean energy vision

To achieve a sustainable energy transition, the EU is keen on involving citizens. But renewable energy prosumerism (consumers producing their own) is underresearched and is developing faster than the policy frameworks for it. This article recommends clarification of how EU collective energy actors are framed in policies, and proposes a categorisation of these initiatives based on three dimensions: self-, civic- and prosumer-focused.
To fulfil the European Union’s (EU) goal of providing ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’, a transformative shift from centralised, fossil-fuel based systems to decentralised systems based on renewable energy sources (RES) is envisaged.
Keen to lead the clean energy transition while embedding technological innovation and elements of justice and equitability into the envisioned ‘Energy Union’, EU Member States need their citizens on board as active participants. Prosumerism or self-consumption is an important part of this citizen involvement.
While the new EU regulatory framework for energy now recognises civic-inspired prosumer initiatives such as energy communities, little is known about the full range and diversity of collective actors in renewable energy self-consumption as well as how they engage with the changing energy system.
This paper presents an exploratory categorisation of the different collective social actors that produce and consume energy from renewable sources, referred to as ‘collective RES prosumers’, aiming to clarify their participation in the energy landscape.
We find six categories with different engagement and needs, which we relate to the EU’s current framing of collective energy actors. We recommend fine-tuning policies to the different actors to support a true-to-vision transposition of the recently completed Clean Energy Package (CEP).
Horstink, L., Wittmayer, J.M., Ng, K., (2021). Pluralising the European energy landscape: Collective renewable energy prosumers and the EU’s clean energy vision. Energy Policy: 153.
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april 15, 2021