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Local Energy Communities and Distributed Generation: Contrasting Perspectives, and Inevitable Policy Trade-Offs, beyond the Apparent Global Consensus

Author: Stefano Moroni, Valentina Antoniucci, Adriano Bisello

Published in Sustainability (2019)


Although a certain degree of consensus seems to pervade the ideas of “distributed energy systems” and “energy communities”, in truth, diverse views are involved. This article aims to shed light on the variety of interpretations of these two concepts. In particular, the article critically considers the answers to the following four questions: What exactly is meant by “distributed” in the expression “distributed energy generation”? Why is distributed generation (ethically) desirable? Why should people consider it a positive idea that “communities”—and not individuals or families—are invited to manage distributed generation systems? Lastly, can energy communities be considered different from standard state intervention and from market systems? Clearly defining these questions helps in emphasising crucial differences, and it is an important step toward achieving a critical understanding. The conclusion is that there is no single interpretation for either the idea of distributed energy or that of energy communities. Shifting emphasis from one feature to another can drastically affect what policies are required to foster the creation of such communities and of a distributed energy production scenario.


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