“Install a solar panel on your roof and then – with the surplus of clean energy produced – illuminate the park under your house.” Alessandro Bernardini of the environmentalist association ASud thus explains the concept behind renewable energy communities (CER), one of them called CERtosa.
CER are legal entities that self-produce and share clean energy, the subject of a decree published in recent days by the Ministry of the Environment and Safety energy (Mase), which stimulates its birth and development as an innovative model for the use of renewable sources.
In Rome, one has just been created in the fifth municipality, in the TorPignattara area. It’s called CERTosa, and «it’s the third in the city in terms of number of members» continues Bernardini, who launched the project with ASud together with the Certosa neighborhood committee. It includes 42 families, the Carlo Pisacane complex of the Salacone Institute, a commercial business, the historic Fratelli Marrocchini bakery and the Environmental Conflict Documentation Centre .
Once fully operational, the project will result in the installation of photovoltaic systems close to each other capable of exploiting the energy produced for both private and community consumption.
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The first steps of CERTosa
How is an energy community born? “First of all, funds are needed – clarifies Bernardini – so we start first with a feasibility study.” The first bureaucratic step is the creation of a legal entity capable of carrying out the project. Then we go and study the area to understand how to position the systems.
And it is in this phase that CERTosa now finds itself, so ASud is distributing questionnaires among the inhabitants of the area “to identify specific vulnerabilities” as it is written on the association’s website. Then we proceed with the collection of funds, navigating the various regulations: in addition to the Milleproroghe decree 62/2019 which introduced the renewable energy communities, there are the Arera resolutions on tariffs. And then the state incentives for photovoltaics, and the deductions for works.
European funds for CERTosa
The European Union is also behind it with the Impetus accelerator, a program approved in 2020 by the EU Commission with the aim of making Europe ‘climate neutral’, i.e. capable of producing energy without gas emissions by 2050.
The Pnrr also contributes because the funds allocated for energy communities are 2.2 billion with the aim – as declared by the Minister of the Environment Gilberto Pichetto Fratin – of creating 15 thousand in Italy by 2026. A distant goal, considering how at the moment there are just twenty-one existing ones.
Not just energy saving
Energy poverty in Italy is ongoing and the latest data published by Oipe speak of 2.1 million families in energy poverty, or 11% of the population. “But energy saving is not the central objective of an energy community,” specified Bernardini. There is a cost cut, “even if not in the medium but in the long term.”
The weakness of the project, however, is “coming together to produce renewable energy.” Therefore the participation of the community in a solidarity project. There are no profit-making purposes, but rather the idea of «meeting the specific needs of the territory in question and helping to reduce the energy costs of the neediest consumers», says Laura Greco, president of ASud.
Resources for suburban neighborhoods
Among the main benefits of an energy community there is often the involvement of peripheral neighborhoods, sometimes neglected by the institutions. “We are happy that such an ambitious project has started right in our small neighborhood,” commented Claudio Lopetuso, president of the Certosa committee, underlining how these are initiatives with further implications: “It is a revolutionary challenge, which can open up important opportunities both to help the families of our neighborhood in energy poverty, and to start urban regeneration processes in our territory.”
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First published in StartupItalia. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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