4 April 2019

Finding policy gaps and crunching data: insights on prosumerism

On 1-3 April 2019, the PROSEU research project consortium met in Rotterdam for its third project meeting, hosted by DRIFT. The eleven project partners presented research results from the first year of the project and discussed plans for the coming year(s). Below some first insights coming from the research.

By Sem Oxenaar and Tessa de Geus, DRIFT for transition

Prosumers are active energy users who both produce and consume energy from renewable sources, and in this project we are looking at collective prosumer initiatives. These initiatives can be energy cooperatives or energy communities, but also social enterprises, local utilities, or public organisations that are producing energy for their own use. The PROSEU project - Prosumers for the Energy Union: mainstreaming active participation of citizens in the energy transition - aims to enable the mainstreaming of the Renewable Energy (RE) prosumer phenomenon into the European Energy Union.

Prosumerism: identifying policy gaps

Consortium partners Client Earth and Ecounion mapped the regulatory frameworks and policy instruments, at both the EU and member state level, that affect prosumerism. Having reviewed (new) EU and national legislation and interviewed legal experts on the national situations they provide insight on how the different regulatory frameworks are enabling or constraining the development and mainstreaming of prosumer initiatives.

Overall, they found that national legislation on prosumerism is still underdeveloped, with most countries recognising ‘self-consumption’ but no country explicitly recognising ‘prosumerism’ and only a few countries having legislation in place on supporting or recognising energy communities in general. However, recently adopted EU legislation on the role of citizens as active energy prosumers is expected to drive legislative change at the national level. You can find the full study on the project output section of our website.

‘Living labs’: exploring incentives and barriers for prosumer initiatives

Living Labs - in which we, together with prosumer initiatives and related societal actors, co-learn and co-create knowledge - are a crucial element of the PROSEU project. During this one year cooperation the researchers and the initiative set-up a series of ‘interventions’ aimed at helping the initiative overcome barriers they are facing or help them make use of opportunities they see.

During the consortium meeting partners got a first insight in the different partnerships that have been set up in the different EU countries. For example, in Portugal the teams from the University of Lisbon and Porto are working with local wineries to promote prosumerism and work towards more sustainable wine production. Whereas in Croatia the team from the University of Zagreb is working together with a small island dependent on water imports from the mainland to develop a desalination plant coupled with RES. In the Netherlands, DRIFT is working with the Aardehuis in Olst to overcome institutional barriers in their vision of becoming a self-sufficient energy community and with the recently founded initiative +31 Buurtwarmte to accelerate the development of sustainable local heating systems.  

Unique data-analysis of EU prosumer initiatives

One year into the project several partners are now ready to present first research results during the consortium meeting. In fall 2018 the PROSEU project undertook a survey of collective prosumer initiatives in 9 European countries. Its aim was to increase understanding of prosumer initiatives by looking at how they are organised, what their motivations are, and what enabling and constraining factors they experience.

We received almost 200 responses and will now focus on finalising the outcomes, which will be presented publicly during a webinar entitled "Understanding renewable energy prosumers" on 21st of May 2019. If you participated in the survey or are just keen to learn more about the results, you can find the invitation on our website.

Get involved: are you part of a prosumer initiative or do you want to stay updated on insights on prosumerism coming from the PROSEU project? Join the Prosumer Community of Interest group on Linkedin or subscribe to our newsletter.

This blog post was also published on the DRIFT website: https://drift.eur.nl/publications/finding-policy-gaps-and-crunching-data-insights-on-prosumerism/

For photos from the PROSEU project meeting in Rotterdam, see this album on Flickr.