Building a Common Support Framework in Differing Realities - Conditions for Renewable Energy Communities in Germany and Bulgaria

The revised EU Renewable Energy Directive first introduced renewable energy communities into the EU policy framework and requires Member States to implement a support framework for them. Given the broad scientific evidence showing the benefits of community energy for a just energy transition, a successful implementation across all Member States is essential. However, the preconditions for developing support frameworks differ largely between EU nations, as some countries have long-term experiences with supporting renewable energy communities (i.e., Germany and Denmark), while in other Member States, renewable energy communities are notably non-existent (i.e., Eastern European nations). With the purpose of providing scientific evidence to support the development of a policy framework for renewable energy communities in Eastern European Member States, this article compares key factors for the development of such communities in Bulgaria and Germany, combining a literature review with expert interviews to collect primary information on Bulgaria. A country analysis puts these factors into the contexts of both countries, while a cross-country comparison demonstrates that there are significant gaps in the support framework of Bulgaria, although these gaps are, to a lesser extent, also present in Germany. We discuss these shortcomings, derive policy recommendations and identify further research needs.