Putting communities at the heart of renewables

10 February 2016

Europe's renewable energy future must have communities at its core, according to Friends of the Earth Europe, as the public consultation on the next European renewable energy directive closes today.

The European Commission sought public opinions on what the future for renewable energy should look like in Europe, and the role of "empowered" consumers. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for the right of communities to produce and supply renewable energy to be enshrined in the next directive.

Molly Walsh, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "European citizens can be much more than just consumers in Europe. There are proven examples of communities producing and supplying their own renewable energy – playing a key role in Europe's energy markets. This should be a right enshrined in the next directive."

To avoid catastrophic climate change an urgent transition is needed, away from fossil fuels towards renewables and energy efficiency. Figures released this week reveal that more wind capacity is being installed than any other technology. To ensure this transformation continues at the pace required, and to bolster public support, communities must be involved in owning and running projects, said Friends of the Earth Europe.

Molly Walsh continued: "The European Commission is asking the right questions, but needs to listen to the answers. Europe needs renewables, and communities must be allowed to complete Europe's transformation to 100% renewables."

Europe is currently off-track to meeting its climate commitments, according to Friends of the Earth Europe. Regressive policies in member states, including Spain and the UK, prevent communities from producing and supplying their own renewable energy – dangerously delaying the necessary transition. The European Commission's 'energy security package', to be announced next week, will also likely focus on investments in gas infrastructure to ensure energy security – locking Europe into decades of fossil fuel use – instead of energy efficiency and renewables.