All for One and One for Green Energy: Community Renewable Investments in Europe

Valeriya Azarova (ifo Institute), Jed Cohen (Salt River Project Integrated System Planning and Support), Andrea Kollmann (Johannes Kepler University), Johannes Reichl (Johannes Kepler University)

Community renewable energy (CRE) projects are gaining momentum in Europe and could play a significant role in reaching the EU’s accelerated decarbonisation goals. This is a key message that can be derived from this EconPol Policy Brief. Based on a survey across 31 European countries the authors find a high interest in community renewable investments, especially in countries where this model is not yet very common. However, the design of the project matters. The study finds that certain attributes lead to higher incentives for citizen investment. One decisive attribute is the form of the administrative entity. Most respondents prefer CREs to be run by a local cooperative rather than by a utility company. Another important finding of the survey is that the belief in economic benefits of renewable energy projects is a more important driver for citizen investment than the belief in general environmental benefits. Hence, if project developers and policymakers tailor CRE projects and campaigns according to local interests, this could lead to a significant increase in the uptake of CRE schemes throughout Europe. 


A crucial part of the recently adopted “Fit for 55” package of the European Commission is devoted to the transition to a greener energy system. More specifically, the amendment to the Renewable Energy Directive sets up an increased target to produce 40% of energy from renewable sources by 2030. Hence, encouraging private investments in renewable generation capacity is becoming even more imperative to reach the ambitious climate-neutrality goals of the EU and to make the European Green Deal a reality. In this context, a pertinent design and endorsement of community renewable energy (CRE) projects may play a crucial role. A recent study based on a survey administered across 31 European nations, shows that there is high interest across Europe in CRE investment models, with 79% of respondents choosing to invest in at least one of the eight investment scenarios shown to them. Yet, operational details matter: e.g. administration through a local community organization is preferred to being administrated by an utility company. On top of that, highlighting local economic benefits, such as job creation from CRE projects, improves participation more so than highlighting general environmental benefits. 


Valeriya Azarova, Jed Cohen, Andrea Kollmann, Johannes Reichl: "All for One and One for Green Energy: Community Renewable Investments in Europe", EconPol Policy Brief 37, September 2021.