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What are renewable energy communities and why do they remain a growth opportunity

What are renewable energy communities and why do they remain a growth opportunity

There is a lot of excitement about Phenomenon Community energy renewable (CER). Not only because of the rush of environmental associations but also by local institutions, even the same Italian Episcopal Conference which the dioceses have called for to be promoted as good practice as a consequence of the principles of the encyclical Laudato Sì. CERs actually present themselves as an emerging model for an alternative approach to produce And Consume On the basis of energy sharing, Characterized by the primary purpose of generating benefits socialAnd environmental And cheap to its members and to the territory concerned, Work according to the principle of self-consumption of energy, self-sufficiency, and the use of plants that produce clean and renewable energy.

Thanks to self-production and energy exchange, from the perspective of a circular economy, le CER they point at himEnergy independence by regulating the resources and means of production that society already possesses. Therefore, a model that paves the way for new scenarios of renewable energy production by experimenting with innovative roles in the social, ethical and civil fields, towards a more sustainable and participatory lifestyle. Indeed, CERs, as characterized by active citizenship and the participation of various social actors, can represent important accelerators of a socially sustainable environmental transition.

And it is precisely the same numbers that highlight the impact that this new paradigm is having. There are about a hundred renewable energy communities in Italy, including realities that are already operating (35), in the planning stage (41), or that are taking their first steps towards incorporation (24). Of these, 59 were born between June 2021 and May 2022. It is a factor that highlights the exponential growth of interest in this phenomenon which sees municipal administrations, housing units, citizens, companies and third sector entities among the subjects involved in the projects.

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In the European context, on the other hand, there is the Federation of Energy Cooperatives which includes about 1,900 human resource centers, with a total of more than 1.2 million citizens concerned. The EU country with the highest number of ERCs – according to a study conducted by the EU Joint Research Center in 2020 – is Germany, which has 1,750. It is followed by Denmark (700) and the Netherlands (500). Great Britain has more than 420 power societies, and the phenomenon just outlined is set to become an increasingly impetus for the participatory dynamics which tend to involve public administration in this utopian order as well. Energy communities play an essential role in the environmental transformation but also of our country’s energy strategy.

On the basis of community directives, Italian legislation has been grafted which, with Legislative Decree 199/2021 – as part of the more general decarbonization goals of 2030 – has identified CERs among the useful tools for this. In June this year, The Ministry of Environment and Energy Security finally prepared a draft decree implementing Article 31 of Legislative Decree 199/2021. The same text also sets out the criteria and modalities for awarding the contributions envisaged by Mission 2 of the Natural Resources Register, specifically earmarked for energy production and distribution through energy and self-consumption communities. Recently, an important legislative change occurred with the conversion of Legislative Decree No. 57/2023 into law. Indeed, with Law No. 15 of July 26, 2023And The activities of producing, accumulating and sharing energy from renewable sources for self-consumption have also been included in the “public interest” activities. This is by amending both Section 5 of the Third Party Code (CTS) and Art. 2 of Legislative Decree 112/17 regulating social institutions.

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Why is this latest novelty particularly important? Mainly for three reasons. The first, because it removes any shadow of doubt about the possibility of CER assuming the status of a third sector entity (ETS) or social enterprise, where previously it was at least controversial that renewable energy production activity was attributed to those identified. in Art. 5 from CTS. And second, because the CER regulatory act has many identity traits in common with ETS. The third reason lies in the fact that – if the CER assumes one of the legal forms envisaged by the CTS and is registered in the single national register of the third sector – it will be able to enjoy the specific benefits of an ETS public, such as tax exemptions, access to 5 per 1000, and a rebate or rebate system for donations received , The use of the “social reward” or, again, the possibility of benefiting from co-management institutions.

So CER they represent Growth opportunity for third sector organizationsnot only to meet the needs and requirements of the participants, But also and above all to carry out interventions for the benefit of the reference communities, especially for the most vulnerable segments of the population. The recent legislative amendment contained in Law 15/2023 certainly does not definitively define the most appropriate legal form for a CER (association, foundation or social enterprise), but it certainly no longer poses obstacles to the establishment of a CER as an ETS.

In an effort to provide more operational answers, the Terzjus Foundation, on behalf of the Cariplo Foundation, is conducting a research entitled: “The third sectoral body as a new tool for the development of energy societies”. The objective of the research, based on an analysis of 10 model cases, is to develop one or more CER models in the form of ETS that make the best use of the regulatory and financial opportunities offered by third sector reform and that are easily replicable. In summary, the CER/ETS model can combine goals of energy saving and social inclusion for the most vulnerable populations.

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