Recent EU Directives have advanced definitions for local collective actions (so-called "energy communities") and citizens and municipalities are showing increased interest in becoming prosumers. However, the creation of energy communities requires a great deal of expertise.
In the context of UP-STAIRS, 5 pilot regions establish One-Stop-Shops that provide support for collective local action and the creation of energy communities, thus enabling greater citizen participation in the energy transition.
Cork City Council has established a Home Energy UpGrade Office (HEUGO), that provides advice and support to private citizens on the organisational, administrative, legal, technical and financial aspects necessary to implement energy efficiency measures in combination with renewable energy, targeted at single family and multifamily residential buildings. The services are to be provided by Implementation Champions. The Implementation Champions will directly support citizens by advising and mentoring on the different aspects of energy communities and energy retrofits of their homes. They will deliver advice and consultations both online through the UP-STAIRS digital platform and in person through a physical office located in in Cork City Centre.
In the context of the Up-Stairs project, AMB has developed a model of 36 One-Stop-Shops (OSS), one for each metropolitan municipality, in order to support the creation of energy communities. Public workers are hired by municipalities to drive the energy transition through energy communities. They provide the OSS service as Implementation Champions. Following the preparation process, 3 municipalities have launched their own OSS, providing support for citizens and responding to an average of 30 questions every month.
The AMB OSSs are focused on the creation of energy communities by supporting the installation of renewable energy systems.
The Renewable Energy Directive enables a new form of sharing economy for the energy transition. Renewable Energy Communities (RECs) are allowed to exchange renewable electricity among its members within geographic proximity without the involvement of an electricity retailer.
As this is a new instrument, significant support is needed to overcome the regulatory, technical, financial and economic challenges and harvest the great potential for the energy transition and the involvement of citizens.
In the context of the Up-Stairs project, the OÖ Energiesparverband (ESV), the regional energy agency, developed their OSS as a support service for the establishment of Energy Communities which supports citizens and municipalities in the region of Upper Austria.
After an intense preparation phase, the service was launched in July 2021, in the moment when the Austrian law allowing the establishment of Renewable Energy Communities entered into force. This enabled the ESV to respond to the significant interest in this new instrument with a well-developed service offer. The offer includes advice and support on regulatory, technical, financial and organisational aspects. 8 engagement events for municipalities, citizens and other key stakeholders were held (roundtables, workshops, training courses, partly on-site, partly online.) with a total of 476 participants. To date, over 350 individual advice sessions (on-site, by phone, video meetings) were held. As a special highlight, the ESV also managed to convince the regional government to launch a dedicated financial support programme for RECs.
The OSS serves to provide advice and support to citizens on organisational, administrative, legal, technical and financial aspects of energy efficiency measures in combination with renewable energy (PV or biomass). The activities are targeted mainly to multi-family residential buildings with many individual homeowners, and aim to support the establishment of citizen energy communities for refurbishing the whole building. The services are to be provided by five Implementation Champions (ICs). These municipal employees will deliver advice and consultations both online through the Up-Stairs digital platform and in-person at physical office premises located in the administrative building of Asenovgrad Municipality.