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A growing European movement for a community-driven energy transition


To achieve our climate goals, Europe needs to deploy massive amounts of renewable energy over the next ten years. Yet clean energy projects risk major delays or cancellations from community pushback, a trend that’s entirely preventable if communities are adequately engaged and supported. Where efforts are made to encourage public participation and help citizens reap the benefits of clean energy, communities rally behind solutions.

The ECF supports work across Europe to ensure that people can access affordable clean energy and build a stake in the clean energy transition. We do this by funding organisations that advocate for and enable the creation of energy communities – entities that allow citizens, small businesses, and local organisations to take control over energy production and benefit from lower bills, more independence, and local investment.

Our strategy aims to ensure there are supportive legal frameworks and financial support to establish community energy projects. Additionally, we fund organisations that build awareness and capacity to accelerate community energy development.

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Energy communities bring residents together to generate and share renewable energy locally, from community-owned solar panels that power schools and municipal buildings to wind energy projects and entire district heating systems.

The model is popular because it democratizes the energy system and ensures that the benefits of the clean energy transition are felt locally, while at the same time contributing to the collective fight against climate change.

It is estimated that more than 2 million citizens are engaged in thousands of community energy projects and initiatives, but there is potential for millions more to get involved in the coming years.

2024 European Energy Communities Forum

As a network enabler, we support the European energy democracy movement to connect both start-up and established initiatives to exchange lessons and good practices. Our work with builds awareness about energy communities and provides direct support and advice to people who want to get started, while also helping tackle the legal aspects of setting one up.

In May 2024, we supported the European Energy Communities Forum in Prague, a unique opportunity for the community energy movement to meet, innovate and build capacity. It also provides a venue for political leaders to hear citizens’ demands for improved policies, regulations and financing opportunities to enable new projects to get off the ground.

This year’s forum was attended by the Czech Minister of Industry and Trade, who is responsible for legislation on energy communities, and a representative from the European Commission responsible for relevant EU policies and legislation.


Over three days, the event brought together 150 participants from energy cooperatives, NGOs, consultancies and other organisations active in this field across Europe, including ECF’s Energy Democracy Partners, a network of 25 organisations covering more than 14 countries across Europe. Participants had the chance to deep-dive into EU policies and legislation, explore various applications of community energy to different end-uses, such as heating, cooling through agri-PV, and discuss various challenges communities are facing, such as corporate capture.

The Forum demonstrated the potential of community energy to enable a positive, people-centred and socially responsible climate transition. Our vision is to continue to build on these efforts, empowering citizens to take an active role in shaping the clean energy transition.

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