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Why energy communities should be at the heart of your heating (and cooling) business

Biomass gasification plant in Gussing, Austria

Energy communities is emerging as one of the hot topics of the 2020s in the energy world.  This has been accelerated by the current Covid-19 crisis, which has made the need to find local solutions to global problems even more pronounced.  Many of the discussions around community energy are centred around electricity - but are we missing an opportunity by not talking about the benefits of a multi-vector approach which integrates electricity together with heat (and ultimately other vectors like mobility and hydrogen)? In this blog, we will focus on the opportunities for heat to be at the heart of energy communities.

The transition from “old heat” to “new heat” is making a community energy approach to heat more and more appropriate – and potentially more valuable.  We believe that working directly with communities on local heat decarbonisation strategies will be critical to the success of heating product and service providers in the future.  Energy communities with heat at their heart are not just the future – they are already here, and they are a growing opportunity not to be missed by the energy and heating industries.

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Can local energy communities and DSO flexibility co-exist?

These are two hot topics that have currently been making headlines across the industry. Let’s take a closer look.

‘DSO flexibility’ refers to the specific value products created by DSOs to incentivise flexibility providers to offer demand-side flexibility services. These services are used to help manage network constraints and/or maintain security of supply. The ‘flexibility’ referred to is the explicit call for demand turn down or generation turn up on the customer side of the meter.

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Can the green transition be a just transition?

Last week I wrote about the opportunity for energy communities to fund the green transition, based on the belief that there is a vast amount of consumer savings just waiting to be tapped into.   

A lot has happened since then. 

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Energy Communities: investment opportunities to rebuild fairer economies

Electric vehicles with bidirectional charging, ‘everything as a service’, demand side flexibility and hydrogen are just some of the innovations long predicted by the energy experts who helped shape and integrate them. The emergence of energy communities, however, happened more quickly. In the space of just a few months, they became the new hot topic of new energy. But how did this happen, and what does it mean for the future energy system, especially within the context of a world in needs of a good health and economic recovery strategy?

We could argue that it all started with the two European directives (the Renewable Energy Directive for Renewable Energy Communities, and the Electricity Market Directive for Citizen Energy Communities) giving energy communities unprecedented rights. But giving credit where credit is due, these two directives are the results of energy communities, represented by the European cooperative REScoop, demonstrating to the European Commission that they have an essential role to play in the energy transition. Energy communities argued as well that every single person in Europe has the inherent right to take ownership of such a fundamental matter and yield benefits from it.

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Localisation of energy is starting to transform the energy system

Don’t get caught out by thinking this is something for the future. It’s happening now. Local optimisation of supply and demand is on the rise, and will accelerate. In this blog I set out the five reasons why.  

If you agree with these, and you are in the active in the energy value chain, you need to take an active position on what this means for your business. There is a whole host of start-ups and companies from outside the traditional utility sector (as well as your traditional competitors) starting to target the opportunities arising from localisation of energy.  

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