The Luče energy community was established as a demonstration pilot within the Horizon 2020 project COMPILE, to show the opportunities of energy islands for decarbonisation of energy supply, community building and creating environmental and socioeconomic benefits.
The Luče Energy Community is part of Horizon2020 project – COMPILE. The project’s goal is to foster the development of local energy systems and boost the use of local energy sources through innovative storage solutions supported by new organisational measures and business models. The COMPILE project aims to activate and use local energy systems in order to support the fast growth of energy production from renewable energy sources (RES) in constrained networks, and foster the transition from centralised system with passive users into a flexible network of active users forming energy communities. This transformation aims to enhance RES integration and increase the security of supply, without the need to reinforce traditional networks.
The village of Luče is in a remote part of Slovenia and has a weak connection to the national energy grid. This has historically led to problems with supply and reliability of energy services in the area. In order to solve this significant issue, and to reduce the cost of electricity, the residents of the town decided to form Slovenia’s first energy community.
In addition to providing energy security and affordability to an isolated community, there were a number of social and economic benefits acting as the driving force, for instance in relation to the local agricultural business and the developing eco-tourism. Likewise, the community initiative reflected the already existing local community cohesion in this rather remote area, as well as their existing drive towards a sustainable future, led by a community frontrunner and initiator who had already integrated RES in the local energy profile and furthermore supported the engagement of members during the energy community project.
The main issues being faced are that the current Slovenian regulation, which has not yet fully absorbed the relevant EU directives, limits the activities, which can be undertaken by the community – members of Luče community may only engage in energy generation and self-consumption, while other activities are currently not allowed or regulated (e.g., energy sharing). Likewise, as the community exists within the self-consumption scheme, it is subject to the net metering – while yearly net-metering is in place, Luče is currently involved in a testing of hourly-net metering in cooperation with the local DSO (ELektro Celje).
There is new legislation currently in development (Electricity Supply Act and Act on the Promotion of the Use of Renewable Energy Sources), which transposes EU Directives into the Slovenian acquis, and is expected to bring new developments into the regulatory framework concerning the establishment, form and management of energy communities.
The establishment of the Luče energy community was importantly driven by the community members and in particular the local frontrunner, as well as the supportive municipality. The establishment of the community directly addressed the needs and values of the members and the wider local community (related to integration of higher share of RES due to above-mentioned reasons), which proves an important driver in establishing an energy community.
The Horizon 2020 context (Compile), within which the Luče energy community was established, proved essential in terms of the engagement of the energy actors, enabling a smoother set up of the energy community and access to technical and other know-how and experience.https://www.compile-project.eu/