The implementation status of EU Directives related to Energy Communities varies between the three regions in Belgium: Brussels Capital Region, Flanders and Wallonia, since they have different legal transpositions.
Brussels Capital Region
The Brussels Capital Region transposed the EU framework on energy communities and energy sharing with the ordinance of 17 March 2022 (https://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/doc), published on 20 April 2022.
The Brussels Capital Region makes a distinction between energy sharing and energy communities. Energy sharing includes peer-to-peer trading and collective self-consumption within a building operationalizing the concept of active consumers. Regarding energy communities, the Brussels Capital Region directly transposes the EU definitions of Renewable Energy Communities (REC) and Citizen Energy Communities (CEC). The effective control of RECs is limited to members connected to the distribution system or regional transmission system (the region of Brussels) (https://www.rescoop.eu/policy/brussels-rec-cec-definitions).
The decree additionally introduces a third type of Energy Community: “Local Energy Communities.” For these types of communities, production, consumption, storage, and sharing should take place within the energy community, and is limited to renewable energy. The local energy community is created outside of transposition needs, in order to create a category of community adapted to the regional context of Brussels: in particular with regard to the opportunity to mobilize existing installations or to resort to the participation of a third-party having ownership in a context where many roofs are shared. The Brussels DSO Sibelga has the role to facilitate energy sharing and energy communities (https://www.sibelga.be/fr/a-propos-sibelga/responsabilite-societale/nos-6-engagements/facilitateur-de-la-transition-energetique). Additionally, the regulator Brugel has is mandated to regulate tariffs and supply licences. In the two years leading up to the adoption of the ordinance, Brugel and the Brussels Government have introduced exceptions for Energy Community Pilots (https://projets-innovants.brugel.brussels/).
In April 2021, the Flemish government adopted a decree transposing EU Directives related to Energy Communities. Subsequently, it presented a draft implementation order on 9 July 2021, which further implements the transposition decree.
Aside from the inclusion of the concept of energy communities and collective self-consumption, the adoption is accompanied with several changes with regard to the operation of the distribution grid, including closed electricity distribution networks (as opposed to private networks). The Flemish legislator has opted for combining several concepts in a smaller number of definitions, such as the concepts of active consumer (combining the “active consumer” and the “self-consumer of renewable energy”), citizen energy community and renewable energy community and the newly included activities such as energy sharing and peer-to-peer (P2P) trading. The transposition decree of 2 April 2021 links the role of “active consumer” (located in a building) with the newly defined activity “energy sharing”. This entails that the active consumers do not need to be in same buildings and may be at different locations.
Situation on the ground: Changes in the tariff are to be decided by the regulator. The regulator can only allow reductions if there are savings that are linked to a reduction in currently included cost items. Energy communities however may not lead to cost reductions with regards to the operation of the grid. Members of the energy community who inject energy, are further not allowed to sell energy to the other members, unless they apply for a supplier licence which entails additional responsibilities. The implementation is not well-explained and hence complex for most people as well as for administrative staff in cities and municipalities. The lack of a business case further does not encourage market actors to develop dedicated products and services. Hence, there is no actual market development and the phenomenon currently remains marginal.
In October 2018, The Wallonian government adopted a framework for collective self-consumers, followed by adoption of a decree defining Renewable Energy Communities in May 2019. According to this Decree, Renewable Energy Communities (RECs) are communities that produce, consume, store and sell renewable electricity for the benefit of participants at the local level using the public network or a private grid, thereby directly transposing the EU definitition. Similarly to the EU definitions of renewable self-consumers, RECs should further balance both, consumption and production flows in the community grid.
Article 2 of the Decree addresses proximity via a “local perimeter”, defined as a grid segment whose connection points are located downstream of one or more stations of public electricity transformation of medium and/or low voltage. According to the decree, the government determines the local perimeter after consulting the Wallonian Energy Commission (CWaPE) and the network operators. Further, any natural person, local authority or small or medium sized company located in a local perimeter can become a member of the community. Participation should be free and open. So far, the law defines the technical requirements for energy communities, while governance aspects are not yet addressed.
In addition, both, citizens energy communities and active consumers were transposed into Walloon law by a decree adopted by the Walloon Parliament on May 4, 2022 (https://energie.wallonie.be/de/communautes-d-energie-et-partage-d-energie.html?IDC=10295). Wallonia defined active consumers as actors sharing renewable energy produced collectively within the same building. Both for Citizen Energy Communities and active consumers, shared electricity is not considered as electricity supply activity (and therefore no supply license is required).