In Brief

The Challenge

Energy Communities (ECs) work together to develop a sustainable energy system, offering opportunities for citizens and SMEs. But Energy Communities face some challenges: 

Social and end-user engagement – how do we motivate customers to participate? We need to develop develop tailored services, and align customer needs with implementation. 

Technological - there is a lack of turn-key and user-friendly solutions for supporting willing citizens and other stakeholders in the path towards flexibility services for sustainable energy communities. 

Regulation - the integration of energy communities into the grid faces regulatory challenges with unclear rules and regulations regarding payments, taxes, levies, and other aspects such as governance and energy retailing resulting in difficulties in obtaining planning permissions and compliance with regulations for SEC projects.  

Business models and financial schemes - it is crucial to develop new financial models that incentivise small players to offer their flexibility services and make their participation in the electricity market economically viable. 

The Solution

The RENEW project will boost the role of the sustainable energy community by delivering community-identified resources including: tailored user awareness, education and engagement strategies supported by interactive tools for citizen participation, digital tools for optimal SEC inception, design and operation. It focuses on participatory, technical, and economic aspects that maximize benefits for those involved, from users to grid operators.  

The objective is to unlock the benefits for communities in Ireland of the potential energy flexibility and renewable energy systems projects. The idea is supported by our community engagement and bolstered by the results of the Creating Our Future Initiative which revealed a stated need for "education about minimizing energy consumption" and "households [can] create electricity and put it into the grid". Indeed, over 1,300 of the 18000 responses dealt with renewables or energy. 

The overall aim of RENEW is to co-develop and validate a novel framework for the inception, education and operation of SEC and their integration as active nodes of the power system through the development and use of digital tools and an advanced energy management system. 

The Team 

  • Team Lead: Prof. Fabiano Pallonetto, Maynooth University 
  • Team Co-Lead: Dr Amy Fahy, Maynooth University  

Societal Impact Champion 

  • Peter Hamilton, ED Tech Ventures