Knowledge Cluster on renewable energy communities

About the cluster

The energy cluster is about finding solutions to current challenges: climate crisis, energy crisis, rising prices, households affected by energy poverty. “Renewable energy systems under new community ownership structures are being pioneered all over the Europe. The goal is to develop cheap, clean and secure energy by bringing power generation closer to the people who will use it. […] One answer to the global energy challenge is being devised at the local and regional level through clean-energy communities. These are groups of people that voluntarily pool their resources to produce, store or distribute energy together.”1

By creating decentralised systems of energy supply, households and businesses can exchange and trade sustainably produced electricity and heat among themselves and independently set prices in the community. As a result, there is more independence from large corporations, fossil fuels and price developments at the international level. It strengthens local value creation, makes a significant contribution to environmental protection, and allows local people to participate directly (social innovation) in the energy transition, save costs and establish climate-friendly lifestyles.

The European Green Deal’s objective to decarbonise energy production has been reinforced by the Clean Energy for all Europeans (CEP) package adapted by the EU in 2019. It aims to make a significant contribution to the climate goals in Europe and create a framework for the creation of energy communities (to be implemented at national level). In 2022, in view of the energy crisis, the REPowerEU plan set targets for reducing energy consumption, increasing the share of renewable energy and diversifying the European energy supply. Significant contributions can be made to these EU goals by rural communities.

1Barbiroglio, E. (2022). Energy communities bring renewable power to the people

Lighthouse communities

To get inspiration, check out the approach and smart ideas of two of the lighthouse communities: 

Stanz im Mürztal (Austria): One of the greatest challenges of the energy transition is the coupling of different energy production sectors and grids (electricity, heat) and the storage of unused energy. The construction of a new biomass heat and power grid in the centre of Stanz and energy autonomous village centre is being realised using digitalisation, blockchain technology and local (e-token) currency. If you would like more about the village through the geomapping tool.

Häradsbäck (Sweden): The aim of Häradsbäck is to become as self sufficient and resilient as possible with regard to electricity supply to vital services, especially preparing for block-outs due to weather conditions or other crisis situations. In order to reach its goal the village is planning to build a solar voltaic park for energy production and storage (in hydrogen). If you would like more about the village through the geomapping tool.

What is happening in the cluster?

How to get involved?

Call for the participation of rural communities on the topic of Local Energy Transition & Renewable Energy Communities

14 Feb 2023
Launch of the call
Call for participation in Local Energy Transition & REC

Call for the participation of rural communities in the Smart Rural 27 Knowledge Clusters was sent out on the topic of Local Energy Transition & Renewable Energy Communities to more than 250 rural communities. Communities were invited to apply as lighthouse, learning or follower communities within the cluster.

17 Mar 2023
1st online meeting
Introductory meeting of the Energy Knowledge cluster

The first online meeting was held to introduce to the cluster members the Smart Rural 27 project framework, the purpose of the Pilot European Smart Villages Observatory and the role of the knowledge cluster within the observatory. Two lighthouse communities Stanz (Austria) and Haradsback (Sweden) have presented their smart approaches to the audience. You can read the summary report of the event here.

25 Apr 2023
2nd online meeting
Søren Hermansen's presentation on Samsø's energy initiatives

The 2nd online meeting of the energy cluster was opened up to a wider interested audience and invitations were sent out to more than 250 rural communities. During the session Søren Hermansen (Samsø Energy Academy in Denmark) shared his experience in initiating various innovative and sustainable energy actions with the local community in Samsø.

11-12 May 2023
Field visit to Stanz
1st Pilot Observatory Meeting and field visit to Stanz (Austria)

The 1st Pilot European Smart Villages Observatory meeting – with a focus on renewable energy - was held face-to- face in Graz (Austria) with a field visit to Stanz. Participants included European, national and regional level stakeholders and rural communities. You can read the report of the 1st Pilot Observatory meeting here.

12 Sep 2023
Smart Village Café
Smart Village Café session on REC Legal Frameworks in Europe

During the 3rd (open) session of the Smart Rural 27 Renewable Energy Knowledge Cluster Andreas Tuerk will be presenting on the implementation of the RED II Directive in the EU, and James Roscoe will delve into how RECAH has been empowering rural energy communities.You can register for the event here.

23-24 Oct 2023
Field visit to Samso
Field visit to Samso to learn from the Samso experience

Samso has a highly innovative approach to local sustainable energy, and also hosts the Energy Academy of Denmark. You can listen to the presentation of Søren Hermansen to learn more about this approach. A field visit will be planned for members of the cluster to learn and benefit from the experience of Samso.

Nov 2023
Technical support on REC business models
Exploring the business models of local energy communities

A session is planning to explore business models of local REC considering both the investment and return side, based on the shared experience of lighthouse sites.

Jan 2024
Dissemination of the results of the cluster work

A session is planning to share the experience of cluster members through presenting the synthesis of the responses received from cluster members (and other communities) on key questions on setting up an energy community and engaging local people in the process.

Feb 2024
Conluding cluster work

The work of the cluster is expected to be concluded early 2024, when all outcomes will be further shared and promoted and at next steps of potential collaboration will be discussed with cluster members.

You can express your interest to get involved in the Renewable Energy Cluster by 28/02/2023 through registration link or please contact us through