Energy sharing is intended to further the expansion of renewable energies, achieve broader participation in the energy transition and reduce grid expansion. It is understood to mean that citizens participate in the financing of renewable energy (RE) plants and then benefit from joint consumption of the electricity produced. But how will the expected benefits of energy sharing be felt in practice? This is still an open question; it will depend on future policy frameworks. In a new study conducted on behalf of the German Environment Agency (UBA), the Oeko-Institut and Stiftung Umweltenergierecht (Foundation for Environmental Energy Law) have compared various concepts of energy sharing.
Energy sharing: no obligation, but scope for action
EU law states that electricity from joint generation, e.g. in renewable energy communities, may also be consumed jointly. However, under EU law, financial support is not mandatory, nor is it compulsory for Member States to integrate exemptions from energy management obligations into national law. This means that from the perspective of EU law, there is currently no compelling need for action to amend the legal framework on the part of German legislators. Nevertheless, they may promote energy sharing if they wish; there is scope for this, which is also identified in the study.
“The EU law-makers make it clear that energy sharing must be possible. However, there is no requirement to promote energy sharing from the perspective of European law. Instead, the law-makers themselves create a relationship of tension between energy sharing and supplier obligations. But within this framework, German legislators have some room for manoeuvre,” says Dr Daniela Fietze, project manager at Stiftung Umweltenergierecht.
The role of energy sharing in the energy transition is still uncertain
“The objectives pursued with energy sharing are to be welcomed, of course,” says David Ritter, project manager at the Oeko-Institut. But to what extent can energy sharing genuinely contribute to the attainment of these goals? Here, the data are still inconclusive. This applies particularly to the reduction of grid expansion. “A cost-benefit analysis would therefore be useful to compare energy sharing with alternative instruments for achieving this objective.”
The study identified six aspects that would have to be addressed should a decision be taken in favour of implementing energy sharing. For example, it is important to specify a local reference between the locations of the RE plants and consumers. And a further point is whether support should only be provided for electricity from new plants or whether additional funding should be available for energy sharing at all.
Energy Sharing. Bestandsaufnahme und Strukturierung der deutschen Debatte unter Berücksichtigung des EU-Rechts [Energy sharing: taking stock of and structuring the German debate in consideration of EU law]: study by the Oeko-Institut and Stiftung Umweltenergierecht
Contact at Stiftung Umweltenergierecht
Dr Daniela Fietze
Phone: +49 931 7940 77 286