14 April 2021

The key resource for a climate revolution: citizens

Communities or individual citizens producing, using and selling their own renewable energy could provide up to 89 percent of the electricity demanded in the residential sector by 2050. A European research project has concluded that, in the coming years, European, national and local governments have a unique chance to support ‘prosumerism’ and thus an effective and socially just energy transition.

On rooftops in cities, fields in rural communities, or islands with irregular consumption patterns, citizens are increasingly organising themselves in energy communities producing, consuming and sometimes even selling their own energy. A European project supported by ICLEI Europe shows how these citizens, so-called ‘prosumers’, can help bring about lasting change in renewable energy in Europe.

This project, PROSEU, has wrapped up three years of researching prosumerism. The conclusions are stark: there is potential for such citizen initiatives to produce up to 89 percent of the electricity demanded in the residential sector! Furthermore, results advocate for expanding the energy produced by citizens across Europe.

In addition to studying the possibilities of prosumerism, ICLEI Europe and its PROSEU partners worked with “Living Labs” in nine countries, analysed European and national policies, investigated business models and produced a roadmap for the citizen-driven energy Transition. ICLEI Europe focused on lessons learnt from specific energy communities in Europe and on policy recommendations, explains Giorgia Rambelli, Coordinator for Climate Policy & Energy Governance at ICLEI Europe: “Governments from the local to the European level can take action to support their citizens in producing renewable energy, and PROSEU highlights this possibility. The tools are there to support communities in a number of ways, from conducting awareness-raising activities to establishing energy communities and combatting energy poverty. Prosumerism represents a cost effective and socially just way to address climate change on the local level,” she says.

Policy recommendations to guide the way

Working with prosumers across Europe, from Croatia to the UK, the PROSEU project put forth concrete recommendations for policy makers at different levels. The recommendations, edited by ICLEI Europe, focus on four areas: the economic viability of prosumerism, its timely incorporation into law, the creation of frameworks, and the engagement of citizens in energy governance.

Inês Campos, the coordinator of PROSEU, says: “Ciitzens have the will to become prosumers contributing to our energy transition, but they need support and fewer regulatory barriers. In PROSEU, we have investigated what’s needed for a truly citizen-led energy transition and now it's up to governments, energy companies, researchers and citizens to take it further.”

For more information, visit the PROSEU website here, or watch project videos by clicking here.