A Solar PV energy community is:

“A collection of people and/or organisations who work together to produce, store, distribute and make best use of solar electricity for purposes other than maximising economic return and which deliver social and environmental benefits.”

Solar PV communities have the following characteristics:

  • They are “mission-driven” so have a central purpose other than profit. Typically, these projects will put surpluses back into activity that has social or environmental benefits.
  • They are democratic and inclusive – so enable citizens to play a role in decision-making and have a share in the benefits of the project, frequently through shared ownership of the project.
  • They seek to maximise the environmental benefit of PV installations by making efficient use of the energy generated (usually consuming at least some of the energy generated on the same site through “prosumer” models) and enabling increased grid-penetration of renewable energy through managing the impact of challenges such as intermittency on security of supply.

“EU HEROES” will work with solar PV communities that integrate into energy networks using innovative approaches that could be replicated enabling more people to become prosumers and local energy systems to become increasingly resilient, sustainable, democratic and beneficial to society.

These solar PV communities will work to enable better network integration and more efficient use of solar PV through:

  • Maximising utilisation of solar electricity on the site where it is generated
  • Maximising utilisation of solar electricity by other users in the immediate area of solar PV systems
  • Managing the export of solar electricity from a site to help network operators to integrate more renewable energy

This may involve the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques including energy storage, demand side management, active network management and energy efficiency technologies alongside solar PV.

Solar PV communities participating in EU HEROES will comply with the definition of “Renewable energy communities” stated within Article 22 of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (see below) and any relevant interpretation of that by the appropriate member state.

Renewable Energy Directive

Article 22

Renewable energy communities

  1. Member States shall ensure that renewable energy communities are entitled to generate, consume, store and sell renewable energy, including through power purchase agreements, without being subject to disproportionate procedures and charges that are not cost-reflective. For the purposes of this Directive, a renewable energy community shall be an SME or a not-for-profit organisation, the shareholders or members of which cooperate in the generation, distribution, storage or supply of energy from renewable sources, fulfilling at least four out of the following criteria:
  • shareholders or members are natural persons, local authorities, including municipalities, or SMEs operating in the fields or renewable energy;
  • at least 51% of the shareholders or members with voting rights of the entity are natural persons;
  • at least 51% of the shares or participation rights of the entity are owned by local members, i.e. representatives of local public and local private socio-economic interests or citizen having a direct interest in the community activity and its impacts;
  • at least 51% of the seats in the board of directors or managing bodies of the entity are reserved to local members, i.e. representatives of local public and local private socioeconomic interests or citizens having a direct interest in the community activity and its impacts;
  • the community has not installed more than 18 MW of renewable capacity for electricity, heating and cooling and transport as a yearly average in the previous 5 year.

Without prejudice to State aid rules, when designing support schemes, Member States shall take into account the specificities of renewable energy communities.