How to use the potential of community energy in the Czech Republic?

by   CIJ News iDesk III
2024-05-28   09:02

Electricity sharing starts this summer. How to tap the potential of community energy in the Czech Republic?

As of 1 July 2024, community electricity sharing across the entire electricity grid of the Czech Republic is allowed under the amendment to the Energy Act No. 458/2000 Coll. (the so-called LEX RES II). This opportunity can be used by a member of the energy community or by an active customer. This will open the way to increased energy self-sufficiency and financial savings for individuals, housing cooperatives or municipalities. Especially because the potential of photovoltaics in the Czech Republic is enormous. Already in 2030, the potential output of PV in the Czech Republic could be twice the size of the Dukovany NPP!

The potential of photovoltaic systems is summarised in the study of the potential of community energy in municipalities and residential buildings in the Czech Republic, which was prepared by EGÚ Brno. It works with three versions of PV energy development with projections to 2030 and 2040. The reference variant (which represents the middle path in terms of PV development) assumes that in 2030 the total usable area suitable for the installation of rooftop PV panels in the Czech Republic will be relatively large. Specifically, 6.32 km2 for residential buildings and 6.68 km2 for municipal buildings. This should represent a PV power potential of 1871 MW for residential buildings and 2195 MW for municipalities. For comparison, the current installed capacity of all four reactor units at the Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant is 2040 MW.

"We see community sharing not only as a way to cheaper electricity for individuals, but also to develop communities or the local economy as a whole. If a municipality is able to offer cheaper energy to its residents, this may represent one way to attract new citizens or retain existing ones. It can also make it cheaper to operate the facilities of one establishment within an area, for example a business that has several establishments, or several different establishments of one municipality. Current data shows that there is still a significant amount of land available that is suitable for the installation of PV panels. The energy savings can be a significant relief to municipal budgets as well as reducing operating costs for businesses," says Pavel Matějovič, Chief Operating Officer of Schlieger Czech Republic.

Active Customer vs. Energy Community.

Sharing electricity between different entities will be possible in two ways - in a group of active customers or within an energy community.

The so-called active customer group does not require the establishment of a community. It is a form that is particularly interesting for people who are connected by family or friendship ties (e.g. own property, family, business or friends). To set up this group, all you need to do is register individual sites (up to a maximum of 11 in the group) by filling in a form at the Electricity Data Centre (EDC). A typical example is the transfer of energy from a cottage to a flat.

In contrast, an energy community is a group of up to 1,000 members (households, HOAs, companies, offices, schools, etc.). The community should only include members located in a maximum of three neighbouring municipalities with extended scope or in Prague (this is a limitation until 1 July 2026). At the same time, these communities must have a legal form in the form of an association or cooperative that is not established for profit. The members share among themselves the energy they produce in joint production facilities. This is similar to the case of renewable energy communities. If you are setting up a community, it is advisable to contact legal or specialist firms to advise on which option is suitable for you. In any case, it is also a good idea to keep an eye on subsidy opportunities - for example, the State Environmental Fund's call for the establishment of energy communities was implemented last year.

Particularly in the case of housing associations or JVUs, which can connect to the system as a JOM (single off-take point) or VOM (lead off-take point) + POM (associated off-take points), these are two different solutions that help households to make significant cost savings. Although in general, systems up to 50 kWp do not need planning permission or a structural assessment for installation, where a house has multiple entrances (description numbers), a system up to 50 kWp can be installed at each entrance. As a result, a house with 5 entrances can have a PV system of up to 250 kWp. Without having to deal with the paperwork at the authorities.

In addition, if the JOM distribution model is chosen, which is great because of the usability of the total energy produced, there is no need to set up an allocation key for each apartment, unlike VOM + POM, and households save not only on electricity but also on distribution charges such as hours.

As the name suggests, it is the consolidation of the points of consumption into one. In practice, JOM means that the current clock is replaced by a sub-clock and the subsequent annual billing is the same as for water or heat. While JOM is not full community sharing, it allows households to store the energy produced in a battery and then consume it at any time.

Change is an obligation.

If you choose to share electricity, the connected sites must have a continuous meter installed that can measure electricity consumption at 15-minute intervals. Thus, the shared electricity must be consumed in the same quarter hour in which it is generated. Distribution System Operators (DSOs) are obliged to install the flow meters free of charge to all members of energy communities without a generation plant and members with a generation plant up to 50 kW within 3 months of application. Shared electricity has priority over electricity from the distributor. Active customers will thus pay only distribution and other charges (regulated component of the price). They will not pay the amount for power electricity (non-regulated component of the price). Exceptions may be made, for example, in apartment buildings where the shared electricity does not leave the point of consumption. These customers will also not pay distribution charges.

Metering data will be processed by the EDC - Electricity Data Centre, which will evaluate electricity sharing within the community and between active customers. The core services of the EDC in this start-up phase will include, among others, registration of market participants in the EDC system, retrieval of electricity sharing data and receipt of continuous metering data from DSOs. You can apply for a continuous meter as early as 1 July 2024, and the start of full operation of the EDC is set for 1 August 2024. The first day of August can thus be considered a realistic date for functional energy sharing in the Czech Republic.

Source: CTK

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