Assessing the Public Sector's Preparedness for Public-Private Partnerships in Energy Communities
AURORA has worked for 18 months with public bodies to upgrade existing social communities into energy communities. To enable democratic access to clean energy and to create a sense of community ownership over energy generation and consumption. Energy communities are a vehicle through which everyone involved can gain valuable knowledge and skills about clean energy technologies, energy efficiency, and sustainable living practices. It empowers individuals and communities to have a voice and a choice in the way they acquire and use energy. Such new partnerships become a model for other communities to follow in the way they generate and use energy. Communities already want to replicate the AURORA approach and contribute to tackling climate change.
AURORA has identified and is breaking down barriers between public, private and community partners that prevent rapid reductions in carbon emissions and a move away from fossil fuels. These include the national regulatory frameworks that block progress; the lack of capacity building resources to develop the skills, to change mindsets and attitudes so that rapid change can take hold; the institutional frameworks and political support needed by public sector pioneers dealing with the risks that come with change; and the transparency and accountability frameworks, without which trust cannot be fostered in these new citizen partnerships.
Many European Member States lack national frameworks on how to develop citizen focused energy communities. This is a new way of working and creates uncertainty for public administrations on how to help these new partnerships succeed. A risk averse culture, an unwillingness to be first movers, and a lack of trained staff hold public bodies back from building real energy community partnerships. In the AURORA pilots we see public bodies that prefer to directly fund renewable energy facilities rather than engage and accept the compromises that partnerships with empowered citizens requires.
The managers of public sites can unlock the power of working with citizens. It is taking time, but we are creating the first experimental pilots in community energy generation that will drive behaviour change in the way energy is acquired and used. AURORA will empower communities to take ownership of their own carbon futures.
Dr. Ana Belén Cristóbal López
Solar Energy Institute
AURORA Project Coordinator
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain