Renewable energy communities or ecosystems: An analysis of selected cases

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Abstract

The rapid proliferation of renewable energy communities/ecosystems is an indication of their potential contribution to the ongoing energy transition. A common characteristic of these ecosystems is their complex composition, which often involves the interaction of multiple actors. Currently, the notions of "networking", "collaboration", "coordination", and "cooperation", although having different meanings, are often loosely used to describe these interactions, which creates a sense of ambiguity and confusion. To better characterize the nature of interactions in current and emerging ecosystems, this article uses the systematic literature review method to analyse 34 emerging cases. The objective is threefold (a) to study the interactions and engagements between the involved actors, aiming at identifying elements of collaboration. (b) Identify the adopted technological enablers, and (c) ascertain how the composition and functions of these ecosystems compare to virtual power plants. The outcome revealed that the interactions between the members of these ecosystems can be described as cooperation and not necessarily as collaboration, except in a few cases. Regarding technological enablers, a vast panoply of technologies, such as IoT devices, smart meters, intelligent software agents, peer-to-peer networks, distributed ledger systems/blockchain technology (including smart contracts, blockchain as a platform service, and cryptocurrencies) were found. In comparison with virtual power plants, these ecosystems have similar composition, thus, having multiple actors, comprised of decentralized and heterogeneous technologies, and are formed by aggregating various distributed energy resources. They are also supported by ICT and are characterized by the simultaneous flow of information and energy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12617
Number of pages18
JournalHeliyon
Volume8
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Collaborative networks
  • Energy ecosystems
  • Peer-to-peer energy exchange
  • Renewable energy communities
  • Sharing economy
  • Virtual power plants

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