PROSEU: Active participation of citizens into Europe’s transition towards fair and clean energy
What is the role of citizens in producing and distributing their own renewable energy? How can this so-called prosumerism help building a more sustainable future? The PROSEU (PROSumers for the Energy Union: Mainstreaming active participation of citizens in the energy transition) project aims to understand what incentive structures will enable the mainstreaming of renewable energy prosumerism in the European Energy Union, while safeguarding citizen participation, inclusiveness and transparency.
In its effort to become an energy-efficient, low-carbon economy and to reach the goal of the Paris Agreement, the European Union decided to invest in developing more affordable and resource-efficient energy solutions. This requires the involvement and better cooperation of all stakeholders, including end-users. Citizens are thus taking ownership of the transition towards greener energy, as opposed to leaving it to the traditional actors.
The many grassroots energy initiatives that started sprouting across the EU, aim at bridging the gap between investors, producers and consumers. The latter, by producing their own renewable energy at local or neighbourhood level, become what are called prosumers. Prosumerism gives a new meaning to citizen participation: instead of criticising and trying to influence public policies, they take responsibility for it themselves.
How communities, towns and cities can reduce reliance on centralised power is an important question for the future of European energy policy. Those local initiatives both address the global environmental challenge by making a concrete contribution to the shift from fossil to renewable energy; but also work out new business models, based on coproduction and cooperative ownership. This contributes to developing new forms of democracy and transparency in the economic sphere.
PROSEU (PROSumers for the Energy Union: Mainstreaming active participation of citizens in the energy transition) is a three-year research project which aims to understand what incentive structures will enable the mainstreaming of Renewable Energy (RE) Prosumerism in the European Energy Union, while safeguarding citizen participation, inclusiveness and transparency. Prosumers are active energy users who both consume and produce RE.
The research will look into new business models, market regulations, infrastructural integration, technology scenarios and energy policies. PROSEU’s interdisciplinary team will work closely together with RE Prosumer Initiatives (Living Labs), policymakers and other stakeholders from eight countries. These Living Labs involve partners from across the policy, business and civil society spheres and lead to the creation of a Prosumer Community of Interests, linking Prosumers and Living Labs with community-led initiatives, cooperatives, consumer groups and organisations, local and regional governments, businesses and research across the EU.
DRIFT coordinates a work package dedicated to synthesising the incentive structures that will enable RE prosumer mainstreaming across Europe. This will include the organisation of a pan-European transdisciplinary dialogue with a range of different actors (policy, business, research, prosumer initiatives, etc.) with the aim to produce a roadmap (including policy-options and recommendations) for mainstreaming RE prosumerism throughout the European Union. In addition, we will work with selected Dutch RE prosumer Living Labs on addressing their main obstacles and will developing a typology of prosumer initiatives.
Duration of the project
PROSEU runs from 2018 to 2021.
PROSEU is funded under the Horizon 2020 program (call LCE-31-2016-2017; Grant Agreement 764056).
The project is coordinated by the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (CE3C) of the University of Lisbon. Other partners are University of Porto, ICLEI, Clientearth, University of Leeds, University of Zagreb, Leuphana University, Eco-Union, Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung and CE.
Julia Wittmayer, Matthijs Hisschemöller, Sem Oxenaar