What is a CEFS?

Simply put, Community Energy Financing Schemes (CEFS) are funding programmes that finance community energy projects.

These schemes aim to reduce financing barriers for energy communities, which can vary widely and depend on the specific financing barrier that needs to be overcome, such as access to risk capital or the need for small loans.

If you're interested in learning more about Community Energy Financing Schemes (CEFS), our project has valuable insights to offer. During the first phase of our ACCE we've looked into existing CEFS, mapped and classified them. In our Database Community Energy Financing Schemes the project partners identified and analysed a list of existing Community Energy Financing Scheme (CEFS) across Europe. In our Best Practice Report on Community Energy Financing Schemes we focused on isolating the success factors as well as the barriers encountered by the most prominent financing schemes identified.

Here are two examples of CEFS:

1) Realisatiefonds, The Netherlands

The Realisatiefonds – translated as the Realisation Fund – for energy cooperatives was launched end of 2021. Since then 43 energy communities in securing business received loans for the building phase of their large-scale PV projects. The issued loans vary from 30,000 to 1 million euro and cover up to 75% of the total realisation costs of the project. The fund is managed by Energie Samen, one of the partners of the ACCE project.

Three ethic and cooperative banks supply the funds from which the loans are taken. A fund manager guides the applicants – energy cooperatives – through the application process. Once their financial dossier is complete, it is being sent to the fund controller, who replies within five days with a quote for the loan. After accepting the loan offer, the applicant receives the money in form of a construction deposit. Cooperatives hand in invoices to the fund controller, who pays the invoices or reimburses them with money from the deposit.

Realisatiefonds

2) Energie Partagée Investissement, France

Energie Partagée Investissement (EPI) is a fund that focuses on financing the construction phase of citizen energy projects in France. The Energie Partagée Association raises awareness on citizen energy and federates its actors and project leaders on a national scale.
The fund collects savings from citizens and invests them as equity in the capital of citizen renewable energy project companies. This equity investment allows the project to be consolidated over time and makes it easier to obtain bank financing. The market knowledge and notoriety of the fund allows it to invest in a portfolio of projects and to make citizen collectives, local authorities and private companies work together on a variety of different projects across France. Since 2010, EPI has invested 27.7 million euro in a little over 100 projects, covering all renewable energy technologies in France (solar, wind, hydroelectricity, biomass, heating).

Energiepartage

Are you an investor, policymaker, or part of an energy community?

Interested in setting up a new Community Energy Financing Scheme (CEFS)? Then head straight to our Toolbox to access the best resources tailored to your needs. Discover guides, templates, and expert insights to streamline the process of establishing a successful CEFS.

Investor

The energy landscape is undergoing a transformative shift. Community energy initiatives are emerging as a vital force in driving the transition towards sustainable and inclusive energy systems.

CEFS are tailored financing mechanisms that offer a powerful avenue for channeling investments into community-driven renewable energy projects, fostering local ownership, and empowering citizens to actively participate in the energy transition.

By investing in CEFS, you can contribute to:

  1. Sustainable Impact: Support projects that prioritise renewable energy sources, reduce carbon footprints, and promote environmental sustainability.
  2. Community Empowerment: Enable local initiatives that foster decision-making, economic benefits, and strengthen community resilience.
  3. Innovative Business Models: Leverage innovative financing models that challenge traditional centralized energy systems, creating new investment opportunities.
  4. Diversified Portfolio: Diversify your investment portfolio by tapping into the growing demand for sustainable energy solutions and the potential long-term returns they offer.
  5. Socially Responsible Investing: Align your investments with ethical and responsible practices, contributing to social and environmental objectives.

Visit our Toolbox for more information and material.

Policymaker

The energy transition is a critical challenge that requires a collaborative effort from all stakeholders, including governments, private companies, and citizens. Energy communities, as defined by the European Union's Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) and the Electricity Market Design (EMD), are a powerful tool to accelerate this transition while promoting citizen inclusion, social acceptance, and environmental benefits.

As policy makers, you have a unique opportunity to shape the future of energy communities and accelerate the energy transition. By developing dedicated financing schemes tailored to the needs of energy communities, you can:

  1. Promote citizen engagement and acceptance: Energy communities empower citizens to become active participants in the energy transition, fostering a sense of ownership and acceptance towards renewable energy projects.
  2. Tackle energy poverty: Many energy communities have developed programs to alleviate energy poverty, using profits from renewable energy projects to support vulnerable households.
  3. Drive innovation and technological advancement: Energy communities are exploring innovative business models beyond energy production, such as demand-response, storage, electric mobility, and community-led renovations.
  4. Enhance energy efficiency and savings: Studies have shown that energy community members can reduce their energy consumption by up to 10% due to access to professional advice and relevant equipment.

To fully leverage the potential of energy communities, we recommend you:

  1. Ensure dedicated financing programs with specific budget allocations for energy communities, aligning with the EU's definitions and requirements.
  2. Prioritize social and environmental criteria in the selection process, such as the inclusion of energy-poor households, technological innovation, and territorial development.
  3. Foster transparency and inclusiveness by involving civil society and community energy networks in the design and implementation of financing programs.
  4. Provide capacity-building support and facilitate the participation of energy communities in funding opportunities through partnerships with local organizations.
  5. Leverage the REPowerEU chapters to strengthen financial support for energy communities, recognizing their role in tackling energy poverty and promoting local energy sufficiency.

By embracing energy communities and developing comprehensive financing schemes, you can empower citizens, promote social inclusion, and drive the energy transition towards a more sustainable and equitable future.

Energy Community

The energy transition is a collective endeavor, and energy communities are at the forefront of this transformative movement. Through our extensive research and collaboration with pioneering initiatives across Europe, we've identified the key success factors and best practices for establishing robust Community Energy Financing Schemes (CEFS). These schemes are designed to provide energy communities with access to the capital they need to bring their visionary projects to life, while fostering a sense of ownership and community engagement.

Our findings highlight the importance of aligning the interests of investors, fund managers, and project developers, ensuring a shared understanding of the risks, rewards, and decision-making processes involved. We emphasize the need for strong structural foundations, with clearly defined roles, efficient processes, and a solid business model that addresses the specific requirements of energy communities.

We invite you, as an energy community, to explore the opportunities offered by CEFS and embark on this journey with us. Together, we can unlock the full potential of community energy, driving innovation, fostering local ownership, and accelerating the transition towards a more sustainable and equitable energy future.

Visit our Toolbox to learn more about our research, best practices, and the tools we're developing to support the creation and implementation of CEFS across Europe. Let's harness the power of community energy and shape a brighter, more resilient tomorrow.