25%. That’s how much of the EU’s final energy consumption comes from households, according to Eurostat. It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? We all know that high rates of energy consumption can be bad for our planet. But right now there’s a disconnect between that knowledge and tangible actions that genuinely have a positive impact on our environment.
The emissions culprits
So, who are the culprits?
According to a 2017 study led by Diana Ivanonva, the UK, German, Italy and France are home to Europe’s regions with the highest carbon footprints, whilst Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria are amongst the lowest.
But there’s no benefit in pointing fingers. What we can and should be doing is using this data to guide our community’s approach to cut our own carbon emissions. By looking at the data on a regional level, we’re able to take localised action and track its direct impact.
“Through regionalised emission inventory, local authorities have the power to monitor the impact and success of policies targeting local consumption practices”
Diana Ivanona speaking to Carbon Brief
Around 22% of an EU household’s carbon footprint is associated with housing. This suggests that if we can consume energy in a more efficient way at home, we’re in with a good chance of protecting our environment as a direct result of our actions.
Energy communities can support this localised approach in three ways:
- Reducing consumption, thus reducing emissions
- Ensuring that the energy is consumed is efficient energy, cutting energy loss
- Transferring energy consumption from polluting fossil fuels to clean renewable energy, again reducing emissions
Reducing energy consumption through energy communities
It’s clear that the most immediate way to cut your household’s carbon footprint is by cutting your energy consumption. But beyond remembering to turn the lights off before heading out for the day, how can you actually do this in practice?
This is where smart meters come into play.
By monitoring your energy usage throughout the day, you’re able to see what you’re using and when. When you join an energy community, you can combine smart meters with energy sensors around your home or business and easily determine where your energy usage is going.
This means that you can cut down on the most high consuming devices, and start cutting back on your energy bill and your carbon emissions at the same time. Use less, spend less, emit less. It really is that simple.
Local energy means efficient energy
When energy has to travel vast distances across the country to power your home, a certain amount of that energy is lost along the way in the form of heat. Known as the Joule effect, this process causes around 10% of energy transported each year to be lost as it passes through national grids.
Energy communities enable you to produce, store and consume energy all in one place, within your local community. By consuming energy that is produced locally within your immediate community, you’re able to bypass this energy loss which reduces the total amount of energy needed to be produced. Because local energy is efficient energy.
Transferring to renewables in your energy community
Renewable energy communities make the switch to clean energy that much easier when it takes place in tandem with the rest of your community. With many countries enjoying favourable weather conditions for green energy production, Europe is in a prime position to transfer to renewable energy consumption.
Areas such as Spain and the south of France with high levels of sunshine each day are well suited to the addition of solar panels for photo-voltaic energy production, whilst more northern countries such as Denmark, Scotland and Germany are better suited to wind energy production. Both of these green energy options are able to be adapted into community-owned schemes.
Whilst many homes and businesses are suitable locations for green energy production, some aren’t. Renewable energy communities are able to bridge that gap with neighbours producing energy and selling it on to other members of their community.
Energy community spotlight
Greenbizz.energy is the first renewable energy community of its kind, housing 40 businesses and 19 enterprises in a sustainable building. Residents enjoy 500 MWh of green energy thanks to solar panels on the building’s roof, access to which is managed via a digital community platform.
Energy communities aren’t as intimidating as you may think and their benefits for the environment are clear, as are the benefits for your wallet. Interested to find out more? Get in touch to learn how WeSmart are making energy communities easy and accessible for everyone.