Power to the people? Implications of the Clean Energy Package for the role of community ownership in Europe’s energy transition

Special issue article published in: RECIEL, 22 June 2020

Author: Joshua Roberts


Since the 1970s, citizens have organized through community energy initiatives to take ownership of renewable energy production. The European Union’s (EU) new Clean Energy for All Europeans Legislative Package (CEP) now formally recognizes this set of actors as ‘renewable’ and ‘citizen’ energy communities. This article aims to assess whether the CEP – namely the recast Renewable Energy Directive and the energy market design legislation – guarantees the role of energy communities in Europe’s energy transition. The article demonstrates how, due to their lack of recognition at EU level, internal energy market and competition rules, including the 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy (EEAG), have overlooked the unique characteristics and challenges of energy communities, raising legal issues around equality and non‐discrimination. Ultimately, the article concludes that the CEP establishes an unprecedented framework with potential to support community ownership in the energy sector. However, transposition and implementation will test the legal strength of the new rules, as will the revision of the EEAG. The results of these processes will reinforce or impede the growth of energy communities throughout Europe.

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