September 7, 2022
On the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, Enel Foundation is glad to share new research on renewables energy communities, that are a vital economic development lever for transition and an extremely effective way to improve air quality.
“Energy Communities: Customer-centered, market-driven, welfare-enhancing?” – a book edited by Sabine Löbbe, (Reutlingen University), Fereidoon Sioshansi (Menlo Energy Economics) and David Robinson (The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies) and written with the contribution of academics, professionals, regulators and politicians – has been published on Elsevier. A team of researchers from Enel Foundation (A. Del Pizzo, G. Montesano, C. Papa) supported by authors from Enel Italy (M. Artipoli and M. Di Napoli) wrote a chapter of the book, titled “Italian energy communities from a DSO’s perspective”. The piece deals with the topic of how a virtuous integration of Energy Communities with distribution networks can ensure reliability and cost-effectiveness by leveraging the resilience and high service quality guaranteed by DSOs.
“Energy Communities” explores core potential systemic benefits and costs in engaging consumers into communities, particularly relating to energy transition. The book evaluates the conditions under which energy communities might be regarded as customer-centered, market-driven and welfare-enhancing. It “also reviews the issue of sustainability of energy communities and whether these features are likely to change as opportunities for distributed energy grow”, as described by Elsevier. “Sections cover the identification of welfare considerations for citizens and for society on a local and national level, and from social, economic and ecological perspectives, while also considering different community designs and evolving business models.”
The chapter, written by Enel Foundation and Enel Italy, addresses the function of distribution networks and, more specifically, the role of Distribution System Operators (DSOs) in enabling the development of energy communities. In Italy, as in all EU countries, the DSO is a regulated business which provides a number of services and acts as neutral market facilitator and innovator, driving the transition of the energy system toward a more sustainable future. As long as they are endowed with enhanced digital capabilities, DSOs can make available key technologies for smooth, cost-efficient, and reliable operation of energy communities. The chapter draws in particular on the experience of E-Distribuzione for illustration. It also explores the nature of incentives for communities, identifying their effects and ways to allocate subsidies consistently with policy objectives, and also discusses criteria to define the geographical limits of communities.