Community wind energy experts request appropriate legal definition for community energy

100 community energy experts from 20 countries have met for the 2nd International Community Wind Symposium hosted by the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) and Landesverbandes Erneuerbare Energien NRW (LEE NRW). The event is focussing on the current debate around the German renewable energy law (EEG) and on community energy developments in NRW, as well as on the international exchange on barriers and prospects of community power.

According to first results of a community wind study conducted by WWEA and LEE NRW, the current German EEG2017 has been failing in securing investors’ diversity. In the first auction rounds, few large developers have dominated the market by making use of the community energy privileges set up in the EEG. Smaller actors like local community groups have hardly succeeded. According to experts this is the result of an insufficient legal community energy definition which only refers to voting rights while other important aspects such as actual ownership and profit shares have been ignored.

Hence the organizers of the symposium suggest a clearer legal definition of community energy, which should also refer to the minimum period of ownership and a minimum number of involved citizens. Community wind projects with up to three turbines should benefit from the de minimis rules and should be exempt from auctions, in accordance with EU legislation.

Such regulation would also be an important step to encourage community wind in Northrhine-Westphalia. However, instead of supporting such approaches, the NRW state government has created additional uncertainties by announcing inappropriate minimum distance rules and by excluding forests.

“Community energy projects are key drivers for more acceptance, for local value creation and for a dynamic, locally based renewable energy deployment. The NRW state government should support such initiatives instead of ruling out the Energiewende pillar wind power by setting up inappropriate and prohibitive rules.” says Jan Dobertin, Managing Director of LEE NRW.

In the afternoon, international experts from Australia, Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, and Zimbabwe will discuss international developments, starting with the challenges as identified for the German case.

Stefan Gsänger, WWEA Secretary General: “We are pleased to see a strongly increasing interest in community energy around the world. The challenges and topics which are currently important in Germany are also highly relevant for most other countries: How can community energy investors get equal access to energy markets? Without doubt, we must work hard on raising awareness amongst governments in order to demonstrate the concrete advantages of energy in hand of citizens. In this sense, we are in particular very happy about the community energy activities which we have started in cooperation with IRENA.”