Citizens, institutions and businesses can help deploy renewable energy and reduce fuel imports by becoming prosumers who both produce and consume energy. A European Environment Agency (EEA) report, published recently, shows that prosumption already exists in many forms and it is expected to grow with enabling policies and better and cheaper technology.
Citizens can contribute to Europe’s energy transition
The EEA report ‘Energy Prosumers in Europe – Citizen participation in the energy transition’ provides an overview of the role of renewable energy prosumers in Europe, including case studies on successful initiatives.
According to the EEA report, production of renewable energy by consumers — prosumption — can offer many benefits for the participating individuals and the society. With high energy prices and energy insecurity currently affecting Europe, small-scale prosumption provides a pathway for citizens to increase their energy independence. Prosumerism can also have social benefits, including a sense community and empowerment.
Moreover, prosumer projects largely draw on private funds from households that would otherwise not be available for renewable energy investments, the EEA report notes. This can speed up Europe’s energy transition to renewables, reduce dependency on imports, and curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Prosumers still face many challenges, including costs, regulatory barriers, or lack of volunteers or expertise. However, opportunities for prosumers are growing with technological development and, importantly, an increasingly supportive EU policy framework. Prosumers are now a key element of the recent REPowerEU proposal and its Solar Rooftop initiative. According to the EEA report, almost all EU citizens can potentially become energy prosumers.