The 2nd pioneer circle meeting: tool up!
The aim of the 2nd meeting with the SHAREs pioneer circle was to incorporate pioneers’ experience and learnings towards the development of the Gateway in an early stage. The meeting took place on the 10th of May 2022, starting with a short recap of the insights from the last meeting where enablers and barriers for energy communities have been discussed (deliverable on barriers and enablers).
The keynote speaker Josh Roberts (REScoop) provided insights into the repository for energy communities. This led up perfectly to the focus of the meeting: tools, platforms and information needed for the realization of energy communities.
A joint discussion addressed the support needed to implement an energy community, in other words: what information, platforms and tools are needed to overcome the encountered barriers. Pioneer energy communities were asked to give their input structured into three phases of energy community development:
In the planning phase, people can be motivated to take part or be more active in the energy community/collective action e.g. through the dissemination of local/national best practices. Members could receive engaging content on their project through an app throughout all phases. Local heroes also need to be able to estimate the economic feasibility of their project. That could occur with the help of tools, such as calculators and guidelines. Access to professional support and information (e.g. legal and fiscal advice) is essential to get the community started. A tool-operator should help local heroes find the right tools, or more specifically keep a tool-navigation-system up to date.
In the implementation phase, the importance of the peer-to-peer exchange was highlighted. For example, the pioneers suggested creating a blog with stories on challenges and solutions to match people with similar ideas, approaches and difficulties. Contract templates, calculators and, as in the planning phase, an up to date tool-navigation-system, facilitate the implementation of the project. A mentoring system can kick in, where pilots learn from pioneers or even fellow pilots.
In the expansion phase, further stakeholder engagement, expertise and professionalization are required. New business models might need to be applied. Due to the gained expertise, the community can engage politically to further improve the regulatory framework. Umbrella organisations (“Dachverbände”) could take over administrative and operational work.
Overall, due to the complexity and the fact that existing information is scattered among various places, local heroes need a central platform to support them over the course of all three phases. The Gateway is being created to meet this demand and is set to be launched in the partner countries by February 2023.