Over the last two years the DECIDE project matured a great experience on energy communities and collective actions. To pass this knowledge but also to get inputs on how to further fine-tune it, Friday 18 November DECIDE organized in Munich a 2-in-1 workshop that dig into business models, organizational structure and community engagement techniques.
Triggered by the latest findings of the DECIDE project, DECIDE pilots, DECIDERs and local initiatives were engaged in a very open and interactive discussion that put into perspective, complemented and validated the current results of the project, providing also interesting inputs on the possible direction for the last 6 months.
The first part of the workshop was dedicated to the different business models that Energy Communities and Energy Collective actions could adopt. Based on desk research and concrete experience from the pilots, DECIDE has been clustering the possible activities into 7 main groups (more details are in the Structured overview of existing and emerging business models, related contractual conditions and recommendations). The classification aims at providing interested individuals or organizations to have a menu of options from which to choose from depending on the type of stakeholders engaged, the technology deployed and the type of action. Participants has the opportunity to reflect on the proposed category, spot light what is potentially missing, what is needed to enable stakeholders to build their own business model and which entity could take up the role of support in this development. Municipalities has been identified entities with privileged position but also with very limited capacity and SMEs has been mentioned as a potential allied that support in part of the task.
DECIDE presented also the result of 30 interviews performed with representative of existing EC / CEA beyond the project to investigate the organizational model and the governance structure. The responses collected show that the environmental benefit was the key driver to kick off the initiatives, which are mainly engaging individuals in energy production and consumption activities. Regarding the formal set up, cooperative is the most used structure, applying the system 1person-1 vote. Interviewees mentioned Local governments are important participant to secure the success of the initiative while the cooperation with SMEs seems to be more difficult and not common yet. Along the conversation, it appear clear the great difference across country as well as the lack of a reliable database of initiative that could be used to get analysis that is more robust (eg. Avoid bias due to the national regulation).
The final part of the day was devoted to reflect on the important element to secure an effective engagement of stakeholders. An in depth desk research made evident a lack of analysis of the social dimension of community engagement in collective energy action, which also reflects on a current vacuum on indicators that would allow social impact to be measured. Survey as well as social experiment done within the DECIDE pilots and beyond, made evident the relevance of social identification and social norms as well as the performance against expectation and the concern for limitation in autonomy for a behavioural change. Attention to the social aspects meant also questioning the stakeholder groups that energy communities reach to, calling for a more intergenerational, cultural and gender inclusive approach.
Enriched by the learnings from Greece, Italy, Belgium, Estonia, Spain, Germany, Cyprus and Austria DECIDE will bring ahead the work in the next six months strengthening and consolidating the results in view of the final event, which will take place on Monday 19 June 2023.