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Where energy and solidarity meet: renewable energy communities as seen by MET Group

Where energy and solidarity meet: renewable energy communities as seen by MET Group

July 5, 2024
Embrace the new paradigm of RECs and unleash the full potential of a more decentralized, inclusive, and sustainable energy model. How? By offering innovative, tailor-made solutions to improve energy efficiency and reduce the environmental impact in various industrial and commercial sectors. These are the objectives of the Swiss-based MET Group in Italy, through the ESCO and inclusive RECs.


Energy sharing is increasingly becoming one of the pivotal solutions for the transition. And also through paradigm shifts, such as the one brought about by the emergence of renewable energy communities. Today, in Italy alone, there are more than 150 active RECs. The transformation they are creating affects energy infrastructures, bills, European and national laws, the way of thinking about the relationship between those who produce and those who consume energy, progressing to new ways of decarbonizing companies and rethinking the relationship between institutions, citizens, and businesses.

Renewable energy communities ‘'help increase public perception of renewable energy projects and attract private investment in the transition to clean energy and, at the same time, have the potential to provide direct benefits to citizens by increasing energy efficiency, reducing electricity bills and creating local job opportunities, as well as helping to provide flexibility to the electricity system through response to demand and storage”, summarizes Christian Hürlimann, CEO of the Green Assets division at MET Group.

The Swiss-based multinational energy company, active in the natural gas and renewable energy markets, is expanding its activities towards RECs, including in Italy, promoting a more decentralized, inclusive, and sustainable energy model.

Renewable energy communities, creating a new paradigm

MET Energia Italia took an important step in this direction last May with the creation of an ESCO. The Italian subsidiary of the MET Group plans to build renewable generation plants with capacities between 100 kW and 1 MW, designed for RECs, starting with a budget of €5,000,000 for 2024-25. The main objective? “To offer innovative and tailor-made solutions to improve energy efficiency and reduce the environmental impact in various industrial and commercial sectors, thus acting in synergy with our core activities related to the supply of energy commodities to end customers and the optimization of our supply portfolio”, Giuseppe Rebuzzini, CEO of MET Energia Italia, tells Rinnovabili.

A development that lands in Italy just a few months after the completion of a regulatory process that also allows the full potential of renewable energy communities to be deployed. On 24 January 2024 the CACER decree, which defined the new incentive modalities for RECs and self-consumption, came into force. This was followed, between February and April, by the operating rules of the GSE and the opening of dedicated portals for the submission of applications for incentive tariffs and subsidies provided by the PNRR for municipalities under 5000 inhabitants.

Eventually, the idea is to make the project scalable and multiply the number of renewable energy communities and investments. By putting the RECs in synergy with the rest of the portfolio. For example, by building communities with local stakeholders around rooftop solar installations, so as to start serving at least a proportion of the approximately 13,000 small and medium-sized enterprises that gravitate towards the group. And involve up to 5000 households in widespread self-generation activities “At the moment, we have built about fifty small-scale systems sold to end customers, for a few hundred kW”, explains Rebuzzini.

REC: a building block to make sure “no one is left behind”

RECs have thus become an increasingly important part of a panorama of growth in renewables in Italy that finally returned to consistent numbers in 2023, although not yet sufficient to keep pace with the targets outlined in the updated National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan, officially published by the Ministry for the Environment and Energy Security (MASE) in Brussels on 30 June.

Last year, Italy totalled 5.79 GW of new renewable installed capacity, with an absolutely predominant share (5.23 GW) due to the development of photovoltaics. And the largest share of the increase was due to plants smaller than 1 MW. Even if we separate out the data for systems under 12 kWp, i.e. those the Superbonus has contributed most to and which recorded growth of 78% in 2022 (for total of about 2 GW), the share of new small-scale installed capacity between 12 kW and 1 mW reached 45% of the total.

However, this is not the only relevant data on RES growth to be considered in the perspective of RECs. The new renewable capacity is distributed more evenly across the peninsula and is above all capillary. Out of 7896 municipalities, renewables are located in 7891. “This is why we consider any initiative that points the way towards conscious energy production and consumption and helps responsible citizens to take action to be important. We are therefore happy to announce that in addition to the growth of renewables, good news also comes from the Renewable and Solidarity Energy Communities that have been created or are in the planning stages”, Hürlimann emphasizes.

MET Group, together with Legambiente, dedicated an award to RSECs - renewable energy communities characterized by a focus on both the environment and solidarity. Last May, the first edition of the RSEC Award crowned five renewable energy communities that intertwine sustainable development and social issues. In the category of pre-existing RSECs, first place was awarded to Solar Valley - Monferrato, in Piedmont, which fairly distributes incentives among members of a community composed of ten municipalities divided into two provinces. Another part of the community focuses on social activities that impact the territory. Attention to solidarity is also shared, for example, by the runner-up, CommOn Light, an energy community in Ferla, in the Syracuse area: in this case, revenue from participation in the REC supports citizens living in energy poverty and finances the installation of new plants. In the category of planned RSECs, on the other hand, initiatives such as that of the island of Ventotene were awarded, which aims to become completely self-sufficient and create new stable jobs for young residents through its renewable energy company.

“Energy communities are first and foremost made up of people who choose a more distributed and equitable model of energy production and consumption. A model that does not end with bill savings, but also helps to enhance territories and communities, leaving no-one behind”, Hürlimann concludes.