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The First Renewable Energy Community

By: Elizabeth S.



Photo from: Magliano Alpi


In December 2020, the small town of Magliano Alpi became the first Renewable Energy Community (REC) in Italy.


The creation of RECs is one solution given by the European Renewable Energy Directive which, according to the European Commission’s website, “sets rules for the (European Union) to achieve its 32% renewables target by 2030.” Italy adopted this directive in February 2020.


In the second half of 2020, Italy introduced many incentives for households and communities to switch to renewable energy; for example, municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents were given 100,000 euros to spend on RECs before 2024. The municipality of Magliano Alpi (2,230 inhabitants) jumped at the opportunity.


According to the European Commission website, “Energy communities offer a means to restructure our energy systems by harnessing energy and allowing citizens to participate actively in the energy transition and thereby enjoy greater benefits.” Citizens living in energy communities can become “prosumers”: both energy producers and consumers.


Cities that become RECs can reduce energy poverty in their area as well as take advantage of the incentives and rewards given by the government. Eventually, the goal is for energy communities to be in direct competition with other energy suppliers, creating a “more decarbonised and flexible energy system.”


In May 2020, Magliano Alpi installed a photovoltaic system (solar panels) on the roof of the city hall to supply energy for the municipality and two electrical vehicle charging stations, which are free for citizens to use. Magliano Alpi is already connecting prosumers living in the community to use the leftover energy harvested.


As the first REC in Italy, Magliano Alpi hopes to demonstrate the many benefits of energy communities to other municipalities. Magliano Alpi also plans to walk other communities through the process of becoming a REC and plans to join forces with nearby towns to create a network of RECs that would cover the energy needs for half the residents of these municipalities.


RECs have the capacity to show the world a new way to produce and consume energy. As the first REC of Italy, Magliano Alpi is paving the way for other towns to rebuild their economies and communities while creating a more sustainable way of life.


Discussion Questions:

  • How can people in your country/state promote renewable energy communities?

  • Do you think this would work on a bigger scale? Or would it only work in smaller towns?

  • In what other ways are communities coming together to fight climate change?


Sources:


Balkan Green Energy News. (2021, January 18). Italy’s first renewable energy community set up in Magliano Alpi. Balkan Green Energy News. Retrieved 2021, from https://balkangreenenergynews.com/italys-first-renewable-energy-community-set-up-in-magliano-alpi/.


European Commission. (n.d.). Renewable energy – directive, targets and rules. European Commission. Retrieved 2021, from https://ec.europa.eu/energy/topics/renewable-energy/directive-targets-and-rules_en.


European Commission. (2021, March 01). First Italian Renewable Energy Community created by the end of 2020. European Commission. Retrieved 2021, from https://smart-cities-marketplace.ec.europa.eu/news-and-events/news/2021/first-italian-renewable-energy-community-created-end-2020.


Magliano Alpi. (n.d.). Ecosystemic Transition Unit. https://etuinitiative.eu/flagship/magliano-alpi/.


Magliano Alpi. (2020). Who We Are. Comunità Energetica Rinnovabile Magliano Alpi. Retrieved 2021, from https://cermaglianoalpi.it/index.php/who-we-are/?lang=en.


Matalucci, S. (2021). Italy’s first energy community for solar power sharing. PV Magazine. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/01/14/italys-first-energy-community-for-solar-power-sharing/.


REScoop.eu. (2021, March 31). REScoop.eu welcomes new member. REScoop.eu. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.rescoop.eu/news-and-events/news/rescoop-eu-welcomes-new-member-6.

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