On 01.12.2022 began the SunSharing project, submitted within the 6th call for proposals of the EUKI program. The project is coordinated by the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture and is implemented by partners from 4 different countries:
- Town of Prelog (Administrative Department for Town Development and Projects), Croatia
- International Center for Sustainable Development of Energy Water and Environment Systems – Macedonian Section (SDEWES-Skopje), North Macedonia
- University of Western Macedonia – Electrical & Computer Engineering Department, Greece
- Green Synergy Cluster, Bulgaria
In the context of climate change, economic uncertainty, and rising fossil fuel prices, a trend emerges of increased interest in investing in community energy projects, especially solar PV. In some European countries, residents have implemented crowdfunding campaigns and incorporated Energy communities to develop renewable energy sources to satisfy their needs. These concepts, although still widely unfamiliar and not universally legislated, are rapidly gaining popularity. Energy communities are open and voluntary entities that combine non-commercial aims with environmental and social community objectives – they are meant to be a tool to help citizens develop their own renewable energy sources that in return will satisfy their energy needs.
The SunSharing project strives to enable consumers and support the energy transition by forging alliances and crowdfunding community energy projects in Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Northern Macedonia. Although there is high potential for solar energy in all partner countries within this project, due to the lack of proper legislation and public stimuli, there are not many innovative business models that can encourage citizens to invest in renewable generation jointly. In Croatia and Greece, there is a partial and incomplete transposition of the EU directives, while in Bulgaria and North Macedonia, there is no legislation at all on the subject. As a result of the lack of experience and awareness, residents are missing out on economic, social, and environmental benefits.
At the heart of this project as the first target group are the citizens. They represent the main driver of energy transition. However, they usually are not familiar with energy communities and organizing crowdfunding initiatives. The second target group is constructed of local public authorities and city representatives dealing with energy planning. They should support the development of energy communities and provide solid ground for the implementation of crowdfunding actions and the organization of local energy communities. The project will reach both target groups via live seminars and workshops and improve their capacity for supporting such local initiatives. National authorities such as policy developers are crucial for assuring supportive legislation basis which could encourage the development of these projects.
The SunSharing project aims to trigger the development of PV-based energy communities and crowdfunding initiatives, thus supporting the installation growth of solar PV technologies in the implementing countries. This will contribute to the decarbonization of the power sector, reaching renewable energy targets and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Consequently, it will also boost the energy security by reducing dependence on fossil fuel.
In the course of the project there are meant to be:
- 8 bilateral meetings with public authorities, meant to help them increase their understanding of the policies on the topics of solar energy communities,
- 4 reports on current state-of-play from every partner,
- A practical Guide book on how to develop a solar PV community and a crowdfunding initiative for each country
The project intends to facilitate cross-border knowledge transfer, establish networks for consumers, academia and policymakers and raise awareness of the benefits of investing in renewable energy.