Energy communities

Comunità Energetiche Rinnovabili
per una transizione equa

The research

The research outline titled ComETE, Comunità Energetiche Rinnovabili per una Transizione Equa, falls into the framework of the national research programme PON “Ricerca e Innovazione” 2014-2020 – Azione IV.6, the research group is setting out and and developing an applied research focused on the Italian scenario of renewable energy communities (RECs), which have been defined by the Italian legislator with the National Law 8/2020, to transpose the European Directive 2001/2018 (RED II) about the definition of RECs, and the Directive 944/2019 (IEM) on the internal market. Furthermore, recent updates have been introduced with the Decree 199/2021.
Such a legislative framework defines the ways in which it is possible to develop a renewable energy community, in order to enact the principles introduced by the Clean Energy for all European package.
Between 2020 and 2021, RECs gained an increasing centrality in the Italian debate about the energy transition. Nonetheless, a sociological standpoint is still missing, and due to this reason, the research project aims at addressing the recent – and pivotal – attention to RECs through the analytical lens of eco-welfare.

What are the renewable energy communities?

As indicated in the European Commission’s official website, “energy communities organize collective and citizen-driven energy actions that will help pave the way for a clean energy transition, while moving citizens to the fore. They contribute to increase public acceptance of renewable energy projects and make it easier to attract private investments in the clean energy transition. At the same time, they have the potential to provide direct benefits to citizens by advancing energy efficiency and lowering their electricity bills.”

Renewable energy communities as collective energy actions that foster citizens’ participation across the energy system

Research Aims and Activities

The research on community energy projects will go from 2022 to 2024, and it aims at identifying the main organizational fields (see Powell and DiMaggio, 1991) that defines the “inclusivity” and the openness of renewable energy communities, according to the fact that such initiatives are proliferating in the Italian context. In particular, we are developing two main research strands.

1. Case study activities in FVG Region + Emerging organizational fields of RECs

A case study from FVG Region: identifying the role of the stakeholders, the different local actors, and the intermediary actors (see the next point) in the development of RECs, through the case study of RECOCER project, development in Friuli Venezia Giulia region.
RECs’ organizational fields shaped by Community energy builders [CEB], seen as intermediary actors in the development of these initiatives. The CEB notion is borrowed from an applied research conducted in 2021 through an agreement between Luiss Business School and RSE (Ricerca Sistema Energetico), entitled Community Energy Map (free e-book of the research available here). The RECOCER case acts as fruitful examples in this regard.

June-October 2022: carrying out of fieldwork activities and interviews for the case RECOCER, in FVG Region

2. Renewable Energy Communities in the eco-welfare debate: building social inclusion pathways

This research strand lies at the intersection between pre-distribution, the fight against energy poverty, and the pathways towards social inclusion within these local energy transition initiatives. On this theoretical basis, the agreement with eco&eco s.r.l led to the development of on-field activities related to outreach activities and inhabitants’ inclusion within the development of a REC in the Alta Val di Taro (Province of Parma, Emilia-Romagna Region). The foreseen REC project is entitled Comunità Energetica Rinnovabile della Green Community Valli Taro e Ceno.

More info on the participatory pathway: Osservatorio Partecipazione Emilia-Romagna

What’s next??️

Our ultimate aim is to nurture social theory and social research on RECs’ development, between tensions, knots and constraints.