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What role can energy communities play in decarbonising the heating sector?

Cooling machinery on roof

A new study shows points to the importance of political support of municipalities however also points to the common barriers among municipalities which are lack of expertise, capacity and financial resources.

Half of the EU’s final energy consumption is made up by the heating and cooling sector, making this an important sector for reducing fossil fuel consumption. What role energy communities can play in decarbonising the heating sector is under researched. This new article by Katharina Hartmann and Jenny Palm contributes to filling this gap by analysing Thermal Energy Communities (TECs) in Germany and what barriers and drivers they perceive when trying to enter the market and play a role in the decarbonization of heating in Germany.

The results show, amongst others, that the political support of municipalities is put forward as an essential driver and important factor for success. However, barriers for municipalities to get involved were often that they lacked expertise, capacity and financial resources. An important driver for TECs was the involvement of local experts and professionals who could support the volunteers often in charge of a TEC. Another prevalent result was the need for community engagement and citizen mobilization, which is a greater need in heating projects compared to energy communities focusing on electricity, due to community heating systems requiring a substantial number of customers for profitability.

See the research article here (Open access).