While energy prices of the existing energy system are increasing and at points even skyrocketing, governments peek towards a solution for these issues. One term that always comes up is decentralization. Small-scale organized energy communities that shield themselves from global energy developments could bring about the desired remedy.
A communal effort
Members of energy communities can consume, generate, sell or share electricity, and have the opportunity to play an active role as prosumers. Individuals, municipalities, small and medium-size businesses can all team up and help bring about the decentralization of power systems, while relieving the central grid by using regionally produced power. That way, not only do communities or regions become more autonomous, but both fees and supraregional electricity transport can be reduced - all of which goes a long way towards the optimization of the overall energy system and the integration of renewable energy sources.
Enabled by Greentech
We can’t just change the way the entire energy system works overnight, but if we have the right Greentech technologies, we can definitely imagine a realistic way to get there. First we need efficient energy generators that are able to almost entirely supply these energy communities. The grade of self-sufficiency must be enough to take away the big energy suppliers' market power, so that prices are not simply imposed upon you. Secondly, we need the technology to trade energy among these energy communities and a proper balancing technology to keep the grid stable.
What’s left is the consumer side, where residential consumers are already heading in the right direction, with an observable trend towards installing a PV system combined with battery storage to charge their own electric vehicle. This would enable these communities to enhance their independence from unpredictable price developments of fossil fuels. Sounds like a utopia? While energy prices, not least due to higher and higher grid costs, put a burden on end consumers' bills, the technology to realize energy communities is only getting cheaper and cheaper.
As long as electricity produced with gas has to be fed into the grid to meet demand, it will drive up the price of electricity. So the more expensive gas is, the more expensive electricity is. Self-generated electricity, however, can subsequently be used for applications where gas was used in the past, thus greatly limiting gas dependence. Installation costs of PV and battery storage for self-generation are getting lower every year, while the output and efficiency of such devices is on the rise. If we combine that with the rising prices for grid electricity and gas, there is a serious argument to be made in favor of locally produced electricity that is by nature renewable.
Redefining Government funding
For those who still have some reservations and are hesitant to install their own local source of energy, there are a couple of comprehensive funding opportunities, which can again significantly reduce the acquisition costs. The step towards energy self-sufficiency has never been as affordable as it is now.
In response to the ongoing climate crisis, the current Austrian government has decided that it should become climate-neutral by 2040. Electricity, on the other hand, is to be generated exclusively from renewable energies as early as 2030. The legal basis has now been decided with the recently passed Renewable Expansion Act (EAG). A reduction in subsidies for fossil fuel-powered technologies that would free up billions and additional revenue each year through fair taxation of fossil fuels would solve in one fell swoop all the future worries about financing the ecological transformation.
Promotion of decentralized energy generation
Austria is now phasing out heating systems that are based on fossil fuels like the traditional heating boiler. To bring its citizens to make a switch to installing renewable energy technologies like the ones mentioned above, the Austrian government creates incentives with a wide range of funding programs. The cornerstone of this transformation could be the promotion of decentralized energy generation, due to the numerous advantages. By the passing of the Renewable Energy Expansion Act (EAG), this development will soon be drastically reinforced. Although it was already a worthwhile investment in many respects, new financing models will now make it even easier to implement corresponding initiatives at the municipal level. With a bit of courage, municipalities can now turn themselves into energy communities.
The new law also changes the funding landscape for photovoltaics and electricity storage. The main way of funding is an investment subsidy, which can be granted relatively quickly. A subsidy via market premium is not yet an option, as a concrete approval date has not yet been decided.
The course is set
The long term trends are clear: electricity is getting more and more expensive while it has never been cheaper to switch to self-supply. Austria has created a practical way for people who can't or don't want to make such an investment on their own, and is effectively acting as a role model thanks to the promotion of these renewable energy communities. And this success story is waiting to be exported. Through increased security of supply and independence from global energy prices, entire communities will benefit from such systems.
We help to make it happen
The only factor that is missing to bring together end consumers and the law’s intention, are companies who offer the enabling technologies. We as neoom offer customized decentralized energy systems in Austria as well as Germany and Switzerland that qualify for the above-mentioned subsidies. With increasing electricity demand and decreasing battery prices, intelligent storage solutions are of particular interest.
Storage systems for commercial use are now becoming increasingly popular because - just like home storage systems - they allow energy to be used flexibly over time. In combination with a photovoltaic system, intelligent electricity storage systems enable maximum independence from the conventional energy market. Smart utilization systems guarantee that load peaks are capped and thus low input power requirements, even when e-vehicles are charged at fast charging stations. Especially in connection with e-mobility, an electricity storage system is profitable even without a PV system. This puts the energy transition within reach and also makes gaining independence from conventional grids easier than ever.
We are certain that these technologies will be the commodities of the future of energy.