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10-10-2014

Community Energy - making it happen!

The conference ‘Community energy across Europe – making it happen’ was organized on 6th October 2014 in Brussels, alongside Open Days 2014 – European Week of Regions and Cities.

We urgently need to change our energy system into one powered by renewable energy to end our dependency on fossil fuels and the harm they are doing to peoples, our climate and our environment. By putting communities and citizens at the heart of a shift to renewable energy we can achieve a transition more quickly, fairly and with added benefits. All over Europe communities and citizens are already producing community owned renewable energy. However, many barriers still need to be tackled, such as the lack of political will for a transition towards renewables, and financial and legal obstacles to community owned projects.

In order to address these challenges, the European Commission organised a conference on community energy in cooperation with ManagEnergy, CO-POWER and Rescoop202020 projects.

Susann Scherbarth (Friends of the Earth Europe) highlighted the lack of political will to introduce community energy as an important element of our energy system. Community and citizen-owned energy has a huge potential to help the EU meet climate and energy targets.

Fergus Ewing (Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Scotland) highlighted the importance of local community energy projects. The Scottish Government set a target of 500 MW for community energy from RES until 2020 and 300 MW thereof is already achieved. Renewable energy is one of Scotland’s greatest assets. It generates not only power and heat, but also local jobs.

Setting up a community energy target is crucial:
- It gives us a focus to achieve a clear goal
- Governments need to guide people and communities towards renewable energy production as they need political support and clear framework
- The target needs to be compulsory in order to kick-off new activities which have many benefits for our energy system and local communities
- Community energy should be linked with energy efficiency and local business
- Structural funds could be an opportunity for community energy

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