In encouraging European citizens to become proactive energy consumers (prosumers), first there need to be laws and structures in place that support this transition. These laws are written at EU level, and then must be transposed into national law by the Member States. 

In one of its first deliverables for the CLEAR-X project, the project partners were tasked with reviewing relevant aspects of European legislation – namely the Renewable Energy Directive (2018/2001), Electricity Directive (2019/944) and Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU), to explore what the barriers are to becoming a prosumer. The key finding was that despite there being some progress in all countries, none of the project countries have yet fully implemented the legislation, despite the transposition deadlines having already passed. 

Under Article 12 of the Energy Efficiency Directive, all Member States must provide some access to finance, grants or loans to encourage behavioural changes towards efficient energy use among small consumers of energy. Of the articles studied by the project partners, this proved to have one of the most positive outcomes, with all  project countries having made at least some funding available for such schemes – such as a new programme in Lithuania that supports vulnerable consumers through covering 100% of the costs to switch to a heat pump or PV panel. 

Turning to the Electricity Directive, the story proved less encouraging. Under this Directive, European consumers should have been entitled to a dynamic electricity price contract by the end of 2020. Unfortunately, the transposition has not yet occurred in most project countries, and the transposition status remains opaque in several.

However, there are relative success stories in Slovakia, where a legislative proposal has been made, and in Slovenia, where the Electricity Supply Act became law in November 2021. While this is a good signal, consumers in those countries cannot yet sign up for dynamic electricity price contracts yet either – showing that there is important work left to be done. 

Finally, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) has an equally mixed results sheet, having only been fully transposed in Lithuania. Article 21 of this directive is a key article, designed to ensure that consumers are entitled to become “renewables self-consumers”, meaning they have the right to generate renewable energy, consume it, store it and sell excess production. 

Of the project partner countries, this article has only been transposed by Lithuania and Portugal. Even in those countries, there are significant barriers to becoming a self-consumer, such as a lack of relevant information, barriers to installation of renewable energy devices, and most commonly, a lack of financial ability by the consumer to engage in the transition to prosumer. 

It is worth noting that following the sending of letters of formal notice in July 2021, the European Commission has recently sent reasoned opinions to Bulgaria and Slovakia for failure to transpose the RED. 

“The situation regarding the transposition of these Directives has given us some concern,” commented Petra Vargová Čakovská of Slovakian consumer organisation SOS, a project partner in CLEAR-X. “For consumers to become active players in the market, obviously the right laws need to be written at EU level, but then we need national governments to properly implement them. We hope that highlighting these gaps in the legislation through the CLEAR-X project will give a further push to national legislators to get this done, and fully empower consumers in the energy market.” 

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The CLEAR-X project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101033682.