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Supporting Consumer Co-Ownership in Renewable Energies

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SCORE (Supporting Consumer Co-Ownership in Renewable Energies)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy (RE) sources requires motivating consumers to change their consumption habits so as to balance demand with a volatile energy supply and to accept new technologies like smart meters. Consumer coownership in RE – “Citizen Energy” – has proved successful in engaging consumers in financing RES, thus becoming “prosumers” which in turn induced positive behavioural changes in energy consumption. “Prosumer” models, however, are still not widely implemented across Europe.

Guaranteed feed-in tariffs have facilitated the repayment of RE installation loans, but now a shift to auction systems favouring large-scale projects threatens this powerful incentive to citizens' investment. Moreover, the typical “prosumer” is male, middle-aged and with a higher in-come whereas the participation of women and social groups vulnerable to fuel poverty is uncommon. The rebound effect and insufficient use of ICT solutions are additional problems.

That is why the SCORE project:

• Facilitates consumers to become prosumers of RE, firstly in three pilot regions in Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic, secondly in cities across Europe following the pilot projects. It applies Consumer Stock Ownership Plans (CSOPs) utilising established best practice up-dated by inclusive financing techniques and combined with energy efficiency measures.

• Activates local authorities and consumers demonstrating the positive impact co ownership has on consumer behaviour. It shows the ability of this democratic participation model to include women as well as low-income households, in particular unemployed.

• Empowers consumers and municipalities in a capacity-building program through the launch of an interactive online “RE Prosumer Investment Calculator” and seminars in the five partner countries (DE, IT, BG, PL, CZ).

• Formulates policy recommendations to promote prosumership and to remove barriers for consumers to become active market players at the EU and national levels.

Wider aims
Turning consumers into co-owners of RE installations provides a genuine motivation to increase energy efficiency and trigger an awareness and learning process among citizens which in turn contributes to:
• Facilitating the use of ICT solutions (e.g. smart meters) and fostering better matching of consumption with the volatility of RE production, i.e. increasing demand side flexibility (economic);
• Fostering acceptance for the Energy Transition in particular the grid extension as well as the installation of new production facilities, e.g. wind turbines and offering practical information to new possible actors in this field incl. public procurers (social);
• Accelerating the Energy Transition, reducing emissions, the impact of energy production on climate and current externalities contributing to sustainability goals (ecologic).
"After the SCORE Kick-off Meeting which took place in Frankfurt (Oder) on 16-17 April 2018 the consortium gave start to the project implementation. As a first step of the implementation process necessary information to evaluate the investment conditions in our three pilot regions were gathered. A strategic due dilligence analysis for all three pilots in Italy, Czech Republic and Poland was completed. This included the assessment of regulatory conditions, available subsidies and existing installations. As a result country reports on investment conditions where prepared and contributed to the publication ""Lowitzsch, Jens, ed. Energy Transition: Financing Consumer Co-Ownership in Renewables. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93518-8."" In a second step economic feasibility studies were performed for all proposed pilot projects resulting in the proposition of different implementation allternatives (size of installed RE installation, usage of subsidies, financing mix etc). Together with local stakeholders such as municipalities each pilot project prepared an action plan which details the further implementation. Given that the conditions for CSOP financing as applied in the project were formely unknow the development of context specific legal contracts for CSOP financing is still in progress. To further foster the social impact of the project the consortium launched a consumer engagement group. This group follows the objective to strengthen the inclusion of vulnerable consumers and prepares strategies for consumer engagement. Another group prepared a CSOP consumer investment calculator which will soon be launched on our website."
In general, the project encourages citizen engagement and makes the topic of “energy policy” practical and relevant to the average citizen. This in turn increases the chances of success for good policy measures, because a more educated electorate will be more willing to support necessary policy changes. This building of broad societal support can be reinforced with further awareness raising programmes for citizens, and due to the tangible nature of the pilot projects the participation in and impact of such programmes will be greatly enhanced.

Pilot projects and expected impacts

1. Using the CSOP financing technique we implement innovative prosumer models in three pilot regions, with our expert pool supporting local authorities in planning and realisation. This will result in investments worth more than EUR 9.03 million involving 2,650 households bringing energy savings of 29.9 GWh/year and a potential reach to further 20,000 consumers.
2. We analyse and compare existing prosumer models, e.g. Renewable Energy Cooperatives (2,397 in 17 MS in 2014) or limited partnerships across Europe. Based on this assessment and our experience from the pilot projects, we develop best practice manuals and templates for “prosumer financing”.
3. To empower municipalities and consumers we conduct a large-scale capacity building programme. Through a series of seminars and events as well as on-going dissemination work we address a large number of all key actors in the five partner countries and at EU level to roll out best practices for prosumer investments. Provided with best practice manuals and templates they are activated as multipliers for the project’s results to in turn inform consumers in their home communities (an estimated number of 1,000 local communities and municipalities reaching out to 10,000 consumers and 100 SMEs in the field of RES).
4. To determine key success factors and develop recommendations, we monitor and evaluate the three pilot prosumer investments implemented during the project involving local authorities and consumers.
5. Through integrated communication and dissemination work at national and EU-Level we promote prosumer models and share best practices to facilitate the replication of the pilot projects and to activate 10 – 20 “follower cities” in across the EU. We launch an open, interactive, online “RE Prosumer Investment Calculator” which allows 10,000 stakeholders without specific expertise and technological know-how (i.e. local authorities, individuals, consumer associations, micro-enterprises, etc.) to simulate the economic feasibility of RE prosumer investments supported by aid of graphic demonstration. Furthermore, besides a constantly updated website with the main project results a detailed communication and public relations plan is realised.
SCORE Consortium team
SCORE Kick-off meeting_16.04.2018