While community energy has advanced in some countries, it is still relatively undeveloped in southern, central and eastern Europe, mainly due to a lack of supportive frameworks and despite strong interest from communities and local authorities. Both community bioenergy as well as heating and cooling have a strong local focus.

BECoop pilots are complementary and hold a high replication potential across the EU, as they touch upon the most prominent community bioenergy heating development scenarios. The cases are existing energy communities (RESCoops) that currently lack bioenergy heating (district heating, pellets stove, forest biomass), and local/national authorities aiming at initiating a new RESCoop focusing on bioenergy heating, in support of their clean energy transition goals.

A lighthouse case will provide inspiration to the other 4 cases. The selected cases represent diverse framework conditions, community bioenergy maturity, RE penetration in the heating and cooling market and socioeconomic environments.

RESCoops: GOIENER (ES), ESEK (GR), SEV (IT, lighthouse example)
The RESCoops of the project benefit from technical, financial and business support services to expand their activities in the heating market. More specifically, BECoop offers them a methodology to develop projects and assess their feasibility, as well as strengthen the relationship with local institutions. Finally, RESCoops are assisted to expand their influence in society and increase their market share in the long run.

Municipalities: OBS (PL)
The project will assist OBS in the promotion of community energy as well as in addressing its low emission objectives that are largely hindered by the fossil fuel heating in the area. OBS will use the BECoop results in order to increase environmental awareness around bioenergy, develop a local bioenergy RESCoop, increase local acceptance of bioenergy as well as develop new entrepreneurship opportunities emerging from the thermal energy and local biomass supply chains.

Renewable Energy Authorities: FIPER (IT), supported to initiate a new RESCoop focusing on bioenergy heating
BECoop will provide FIPER new knowledge from the development of bioenergy RESCoops that it will then transfer in the district heating systems and municipalities members of the association.

Small-scale demonstration activities will be organised to illustrate the technical feasibility of the proposed solutions. BECoop will deploy a monitoring and evaluation methodology by using the BECoop assessment tool and indicators to assess the impact of our concept, approaches and outcomes in the four supported cases. The lessons and evidence at case level will be leveraged to provide valuable knowledge on the socio-economic and environmental impact as well as on the public acceptance of our interventions. A comparative analysis will aim to identify common needs and barriers, and key success and failure factors for community bioenergy heating projects.

Finally, a lighthouse case which combines the characteristics of the other cases (existing RESCoop with bioenergy heating) will help BECoop in highlighting the economic, environmental and social bioenergy benefits compared with other energy sources. This federation of RESCoops offers its bioenergy RESCoop experience to BECoop. The participating entity is the District Heating Cooperative Toblach-Innichen in Italy, founded in 1994 as a consumer cooperative in a remote mountain area (220 initial participants). In 2020, Toblach-Innichen is the first company to enter the regulating energy market with such a small installed power. SEV, BECoop partner leading this case, is a federation of RESCoops, representing 72 cooperatives, 202 enterprises, and 21 municipalities and public bodies. Currently, SEV includes 120 hydropower plants, 45 district heating plants and 149 photovoltaic installations. 20 of the 56 distributors active in South Tyrol are organised as co-operatives and 18% of local power plants, with a capacity between 220 kW and 3 megawatts, are run by cooperatives.

Technical support services

  • Provide help in the selection of suitable heating equipment/ technology.
  • Bring RESCoops in contact with manufacturers and installers.
  • Recommendations regarding the implementation of a reliable supply chain that would be able to steadily supply the required biomass for the heating applications of RESCoops.
  • Hands-on technical consultancy including the entire spectrum of bioenergy heating technical aspects (e.g. type of resources to be used -quality, quantity, price-, selection of sites, assessments of feedstock quality, etc.).
  • Feasibility analysis.

Business support services

  • Business modelling and planning services for replicating suitable business models (leading to specific business models and plans);
  • Investment planning, and financial services for assisting RESCoops in the introduction and testing of innovative self-financing models, finding alternative financing mechanisms (e.g. crowdfunding).
  • Applying to further EU and national funding opportunities;
  • Networking and investment readiness support to effectively collaborate with industry or finance actors.
  • Peer to peer mentoring program with community bioenergy experts across EU.