LIFE is the EU’s funding programme dedicated to the environment and climate action.
This call supports the creation of a ‘European Energy Communities Facility’ to deliver financial support for the early stages of energy community projects in the EU.
Energy communities can be an effective tool to attract private investment to renewable energy and energy efficiency, increase the public acceptance of sustainable energy projects and engage citizens in delivering a fair and clean energy transition locally. Given the speed and scale at which the clean energy transition needs to happen and the benefits of engaging and empowering consumers through energy communities, it is essential to create tools to help a large number of community energy projects to take off and contribute to the European climate and energy targets.
With the Clean Energy for all Europeans Package, the EU introduced the definitions of citizen energy communities69 and renewable energy communities. For both, Member States are asked to create an enabling legal, regulatory and policy framework to provide a level playing field for energy communities and other actors and to support their development and integration in the energy system. As the transposition and implementation of the relevant Directives progresses, a growing number of Member States is developing bespoke support for energy community projects. However, there are large areas of the EU where this support is still scarce and energy community creation relies mostly on the work of volunteers.
The early phases of sustainable energy projects developed by energy communities require a significant effort. Emerging communities often struggle to know where to start when it comes to the technical and financial aspects of setting up a sustainable energy project and funding the key pre-development work (e.g. feasibility studies, permits, legal agreements, etc.). In fact, that work is often carried out by volunteers with limited expertise and/or financed by raising funds from members who, if the project fails, lose their initial investment. As a result, many projects are abandoned at an early stage due to the lack of professional advice and the difficulty of raising funds for the early phases of project development.
In order to support the growth of energy communities and make projects less dependent on the income level of community members or the availability of support at local level, this topic aims at creating a Facility able to provide support for the early phases of energy community projects. This support shall be designed to reduce the risk of the pre-development phase and thereby create a bridge between the project idea and the launch of the community investment.
The European Energy Communities Facility should offer support services, including financial support to third parties, to develop business plans to grow and implement sustainable energy community projects (addressing e.g. energy efficiency, heating and cooling, renewable energy production and use, electro-mobility).
The support directly benefiting third parties planning to launch energy community projects should amount to at least 70% of the budget through a support scheme which may include two different stages:
In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must be legal entities (public or private bodies) and be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
Proposals must be submitted by at least 3 applicants (beneficiaries; not affiliated entities) from 3 different eligible countries.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 10 million would allow the specific objectives to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.