From 1 February to 1 March, the application period for the two calls for aid for pilot projects for energy communities (CE IMPLEMENTA programme), approved by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO), will be open.
They are endowed with 40 million euros from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR) for the implementation of the Next Generation EU funds and will make it possible to promote more than 40 energy community initiatives that promote social innovation and citizen participation in renewables, energy efficiency and electric mobility. Special importance will be given to social and gender impact, the inclusion of vulnerable consumers as partners or members and the development of projects in the demographic challenge and Just Transition municipalities.
The deadline for submitting applications will remain open until 1 March, through the electronic headquarters of the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE), the body responsible for managing the grants.
Two calls for applications
The CE-IMPLEMENTA programme is divided into two calls for proposals. The first one allocates ¤10 million to small projects with an investment of less than ¤1 million and is expected to promote more than 21 innovative initiatives. The second call is for 30 million to promote almost twenty medium or large projects with an investment of more than one million. The aid will be granted on a competitive basis and will cover up to 60% of the eligible costs of the project.
This competition will prioritise, on the one hand, multi-component and innovative projects, i.e. projects that integrate installations of different nature, combining renewable electric energy, thermal energy, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility and/or demand management, in order to encourage the adoption of solutions in sectors that are more difficult to decarbonise. Moreover, special importance will be given to the social and gender impact of energy communities, the inclusion of vulnerable consumers as partners or members and the development of projects in municipalities with demographic challenges and those included in the Just Transition agreements.
Last Friday, the IDAE held a webinar to explain the format and application procedures for this call. The session, available on the IDAE’s YouTube channel, was attended by 1,000 people and hundreds of questions were received, demonstrating the growing interest in energy communities in Spain. In order to compile all this knowledge, the IDAE has created an interactive map of energy communities, available here, and is working to develop a nationwide information and training network.
Those legal entities, public or private, that promote the participation in the energy sector of actors that have not traditionally participated in it, through projects in five areas of action, may benefit from this line of aid:
Renewable electrical energies
Thermal renewable energies
In the area of electrical renewable energies, actions associated with biomass, biogas or other renewable gases, wind, hydro and solar photovoltaic will be eligible. In thermal renewables, aid is envisaged for aerothermal, biomass, biomethane, geothermal, hydrothermal and solar thermal projects.
In the field of energy efficiency, the improvement of the thermal envelope is included, as well as sustainable mobility projects, such as the acquisition of electric vehicles and the implementation of charging infrastructures.
Finally, with regard to demand management, aid is provided for storage behind the meter, new uses of vehicle batteries (second life of batteries) and demand flexibility services.
Eligible costs include the administrative or management costs of the application and justification of the aid, the preparation of the technical projects, the costs of drafting the specifications and the execution of the works, as well as investment in equipment and materials.
The aid will be granted in the form of a non-repayable grant, which will be definitively received by the beneficiary once the project has been carried out and the investment has been certified. In order to facilitate the financing of the projects, 80% of the aid granted may be advanced.
Green energy, citizen participation and the demographic challenge
Energy communities are entities that do not seek financial profitability, set up to promote and facilitate the active participation of consumers in the energy system and improve energy management through governance based on the open and voluntary participation of their members. They are also controlled by members with ties to the territory so that the environmental, economic and social benefits they provide are directly transferred to the environment in which they are set up.
The impact of energy communities goes beyond the energy sector, as they help in the fight against climate change and energy poverty, and promote social improvements in the community, making them particularly interesting for municipalities with demographic challenges; as they are close to the territory, they know its sensitive points and the advantages they can offer, while helping to boost local activity, generate employment and fix population. They are therefore in line with the Government’s commitment to just transition and the fight against depopulation.
As for the nature of the communities, they can be existing groups or cooperatives that enter the energy field or new ones created for this purpose; as well as collective projects, such as citizen groups that promote a small solar or wind farm on the outskirts of a municipality, or other more comprehensive projects that combine different technologies.
Energy communities also make it possible to extend the cooperative culture to the field of energy, both in the generation and consumption of energy, as those who form part of them are, in turn, producers and consumers of their own clean energy, which results in greater democratisation of the energy system and significant savings for the end consumer.
Energy communities in PERTE-ERHA
These calls for aid respond to the EC IMPLEMENTA programme of the plan to promote energy communities, endowed with 100 million euros, and are part of Component 7 of the PRTR, Deployment and integration of renewable energies. They are also two of the first calls of the Strategic Project for the Recovery and Economic Transformation of Renewable Energies, Renewable Hydrogen and Storage (PERTE ERHA), a comprehensive programme of instruments and measures to develop technology, knowledge, industrial capacities and new business models that reinforce Spain’s leading position in the field of clean energies.
PERTE ERHA will mobilise an investment of more than 16,300 million, between contributions from the PRTR and private funds. In general, financial support will be granted through competitive calls to select the best projects.