High-level Conference: Local Energy Communities for Businesses April 29th in Ghent, Belgium

Transitioning towards clean energy, as is the ambition at the EU level, is crucial in order to attain a higher degree of equilibrium between our consumption and the planet’s boundaries. In line with this, the EU’s clean energy package is expected to be transposed on the national level soon. In this document, energy production at the local level is perceived crucial to foster renewable energy production. Therefore, one of the ways in which renewable energy production is being tackled is through the creation of local energy communities, both for individuals and businesses alike.

Although very promising, energy communities still face multiple obstacles to their development, especially regarding their legal framework. The high-level conference that took place on April 29th in Ghent and welcomed 150 participants, was aimed at presenting the latest information on the development of LECs particularly for businesses within the EU. The event was co-organized by the following partners: BISEPS, Interreg 2 Seas Mers Zeeën, ROLECS, STORY, Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen, Flux50 and Provincie West-Vlaanderen.

The perspective of Flemish LECs and the EU’s vision on LECs were presented, and what needs to addressed in order to make LECs work in Flanders and the EU, who some of the EU frontrunners are (UK, France, Austria) and what the needs of businesses currently are were all topics of lively discussions.

Flanders stated its ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2050, and in that respect local energy communities represent a way to contribute to attaining said goal. The EU is geared towards supporting innovation, but it also supports existing solutions, and raised the points of trend endorsement goals (such as social acceptance, monitoring and reviewing, easy administration), market access and consumer protection. Concerning how to make LECs work, the following points were raised: a business case exists but it should also be realistic and feasible, as energy transition takes time.  Some of the examples brought forth were social acceptance and inclusion, citizen engagement, (smart)digitalization, platforms for the system to function and added value for the specific end-consumer. Regarding the needs of businesses, issues such as regulatory stability, metering tools, data-sharing, risk assessment mitigation and income streams were addressed. 

Prospex Institute is proud to have contributed to this event through the design, moderation and facilitation of the workshops and panel discussion.