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ClientEarth Communications

30th November 2016

Clean energy

How can people make, use and sell their own renewable energy?

There are now many ways that households, local governments and small businesses can participate in the energy system, either individually or collectively. This will reduce the cost of energy for all and help Europe move towards a low-emission energy system, which is better for people and the planet.

What are active energy consumers?

Everyone in Europe has the potential to both consume and produce energy. People can do this through generating renewable energy, battery or electrical vehicle storage, energy conservation, or adopting demand-response technology to use energy more intelligently. These energy consumer-producers are sometimes known as ‘prosumers’.

According to CE Delft, by 2050 an estimated 83% (about 187 million) of EU households could contribute to renewable energy production, demand response or energy storage.

What is the EU doing to promote active energy consumers?

The Commission is proposing new EU rules to make sure energy consumers have the rights and incentives to generate, store, consume and sell renewable energy, and to benefit from demand response.

This includes rules to allow citizens to come together to participate collectively in activities they cannot do on their own. For instance, households and small businesses can work through a company that will collect (‘aggregate’) their flexible use and sell it on a large scale. Citizens can also invest together in community energy projects that produce, store and supply renewable energy on a large scale.

Why do we need a legal framework to support energy citizens?

Some countries encourage prosumers but other governments block or disincentivise them, often because of large energy utilities don’t want competition. This inconsistent treatment of consumers participating in the energy market is because the EU doesn’t have a dedicated legal framework that sets rules for citizen involvement in the energy sector.

Why are active energy consumers important?

  • Flexible use of energy by consumers is needed to adapt the energy system to rising use of renewable energy.
  • Citizen ownership unlocks further investment in renewables and other clean energy technologies that promote local economic and social development.
  • Consumers who have more control over how they use energy can save on their energy bills.
  • Active engagement in the energy system promotes environmental consciousness and behavioral change.
    Encouraging active energy consumers helps hit national and EU climate and energy goals.

What is needed to ensure people can participate in the energy transition?

  1. Define ‘active consumers’ – as individuals and collectives – then develop tailored legal frameworks to let them participate in the energy system.
  2. A set of rights to protect active consumers across Europe against disproportionate barriers to demand-response technology and producing, storing, consuming and selling renewable energy.
  3. Strong oversight by energy regulators to ensure people’s right to participate in energy markets is protected, and that they are not discriminated against by other industry players or government.