ACCEPT detected a number of key drivers (social, economic, environmental and political factors) as motivations for participating in energy communities.
Energy communities (ECs) can provide members with unique opportunities to plan, finance and own their own energy systems.
The creation and continued growth of ECs still very much depends on the drive and passion of community members. However, assisted by improved government and sectoral supports, growth in this sector can be further enhanced to attract citizens who may not have the same level of commitment but would like to join or form a EC.
Key drivers that could transform citizen engagement in ECs include greater levels of institutional and subsidy-related supports that foster local ownership and community-led initiatives, and not simply leaving them to operate in the market to same way as incumbent energy actors with their years of experience and accrued financial capital.
Most notably, early-stage funding and access to alternative forms of finance are seen as vital to project consolidation. Better training and knowledge sharing schemes would help EC initiatives to build their organisational capacity. This would also contribute to fostering greater local cohesion between citizens and ECs, whether citizens are actively involved or not. When information is freely accessible and transparent, and shared by trusted actors within the community, the opportunity for distrust and/or opposition become greatly diminished and instead increase the potential for fostering new partnerships across different actors in the energy domain. These can be further strengthened by prioritising supports for novel technical innovations and alternative business models at the EC level.