Towards Energy Communities – webinar
21 june 2021 | Location: Espoo

On the 26th of May the SPARCS project participated in arranging a webinar focusing on energy communities. The event, facilitated by SPARCS/City of Espoo Project Manager Elina Wanne, focused on walking through different practical examples of energy communities, with presentations from several Finnish experts. The topic created a lot of interest, with over 80 attendees from different Finnish organizations taking part.

The opening speaker of the event, Professor Pertti Järventausta from the University of Tampere, focused on the changes happening in the energy business due to climate change and the smart energy transition. Järventausta emphasized the need to increase the role of customers in the electricity market and encouraged a quick transition in integrating energy communities to current energy business.

As energy communities become more popular, different sectors can also be added with electricity, heating, transport and water becoming a single service for consumers. This could lead to completely new providers creating completely new services in the energy market.

The second speaker of the event, Senior Specialist Kanerva Sunila from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, focused on the recent changes in Finnish regulation related to energy communities. As of January 2021, internal netting within a housing association was made possible in Finland. This was done to increase the benefits from investing in renewable generation within a housing association. Sunila understood the need for rapid changes in legislation, but also emphasized that we must ensure reliable energy services for all in a sparsely populated country.

Next, several different energy community cases were presented from Espoo, Tampere, Lempäälä and Kerava. Development program manager Juha Olkkonen from Caruna presented their energy community service to property owners, where they can link their solar panels to the Caruna distribution grid. This can bring savings to the electricity bills of all residents and increases to property value in the future. Olkkonen encouraged all property owners to look into the future and save natural resources by investing in energy communities.

Jarno Lintunen, CEO of Lempäälän Energia, presented the LEMENE energy community project. The aim of this project is to create a self-sufficient and smart energy community for businesses while creating a development ground for future research on renewable technologies. The current system consists of two solar farms, several gas engines, fuel cells and battery systems, with plans to extend this system even further.
The webinar ended with a presentation from project manager Samuli Rinne from the Making-City-project within the City of Oulu. Rinne looked into system-wide perspectives regarding energy communities.

As a recap, the Towards Energy Communities –webinar generated a lot of interest from Finnish organizations with over 80 attendees. Several experts of the field gave presentations with a focus on practical examples from several Finnish cities. Now, the next step should be to make this event international, and to challenge other countries on presenting their interesting use cases. It would be highly beneficial to learn about how European legislation of energy communities has been adapted to national legislation. In Finland we are looking forward to the next step of adapting energy communities across property borders in years to come.
The event was organized by the SCC projects IRIS, Making-City, MAtchUP, mySMARTLife, SPARCS and STARDUST funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, as well as the cities of Espoo, Helsinki, Kerava, Oulu, Tampere and Vaasa and Finnish association of Civil Engineers RIL.