Bioenergy Communities are Shifting the Power to Prosumers, According to IDC Energy Insights
Milan – February 18, 2014 – In a new study, "Business Strategy: The Shifting of Power to Prosumers: Bioenergy Communities — A European Perspective" (Document #EIRS02W), IDC Energy Insights forecasts that consumers will increasingly look to distributed generation models to meet their energy needs, in particular adopting community financing and ownership models, as they become increasingly disenfranchised by the centralized energy model that has dominated the past century.
A new energy model is emerging, whereby prosumers generate their own energy independently on a distributed, small scale with renewable energy technologies. The combination of the words producer and consumer, prosumers once represented a small group of individuals driven by strong ideals of energy security and environmentalism. The concept has since expanded and now incorporates hundreds of community-led schemes worldwide, often based on similar ideals to the early visionaries but with the prospects of it being a savvy investment providing profit and local development.
"Consumers are growing tired of the centralized energy generation model and are taking matters into their hands, tackling the issues close to their heart. Distributed generation projects offer them an alternative — one they can own and operate — leading them on a path to sustainable development," said Adam Ajzensztejn, senior research analyst, IDC Energy Insights, EMEA.
Community prosumer schemes, mobilize entire communities and other stakeholders to plan, fund, deploy, operate, and maintain distributed energy systems, allowing them to become energy self-sufficient and often profitable. The involvement of an entire community not only leverages economies of scale for financing and implementing technological solutions but also leads to improved social community cohesion and generates a powerful self-perpetuating momentum for change. Communities have discovered that the new energy model can serve as a catalyst for regional development and diversification, retaining and circulating money locally, which would otherwise dissipate to be spent on importing energy from afar, providing a boost to local employment, enterprise and trade. Additionally, security of supply, environmental and climate concerns, independency from large energy corporations, and price volatility are just a number of other factors that a community-led distributed generation scheme addresses.
Bioenergy is surprisingly versatile, and where responsibly sourced, can offer a sustainable and zero-carbon solution. As a biomass, or processed to biogas it can be used as the feedstock for efficient CHP Plants to generate heat and power to be distributed to a community through heating networks and microgrids, or fed to the mains grid. On its own, or as part of a broader renewable energy mix, bioenergy has been shown to bring energy self sufficiency to villages, towns and even islands.
While distributed generation has its share of issues, namely they often rely on subsidies to stack up economically, it is just a matter of time before technological innovation and new business models, perhaps based on a virtual community, will provide solutions. When they do, the emphasis will shift to utilities, which will need to cope technically and financially, carving out a niche under the new energy reality or at minimum redefining their role.
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