The Lightness project involves seven Citizen Energy Communities in five different European countries. Within each of these communities a group of people is invited to participate in a pilot project. Participants engage in digital peer-to-peer energy trading. The experience of participants helps us shape and support a new energy culture.
In the recruitment phase we approach people who are interested in engaging in the project. Community representatives assist us by reaching out to their community. Potential participants are informed about the benefits of participating and what will be expected from them during the duration of the project. Our aim is to engage a group as diverse as the community itself.
After participants have given their formal consent, they receive a digital web-based app that can be easily installed on mobile devices such as smart phones. The app allows participants to trade energy on the wholesale market or exchange it with their fellow community members.
In the kick-off workshop, we listen to the participants’ expectations, ambitions and worries. They are given all the information that is needed to use the app in a meaningful way. Now they are ready to be part of the peer-to-peer energy system.
The halftime workshop has two purposes: Firstly, participants tell us about their experiences with the app. How do they use the app? What were the outcomes? This feedback is valuable for the final evaluation.
Secondly, users get the opportunity to test another app developed within LIGHTNESS: The Intelligent Communities Lifecycle tool. It simulates the impact of technological changes such as the installation of solar panels on the performance of the energy community. This tool can help Citizen Energy Communities to take decisions about investments into new energy technology.
The final step of the engagement procedure is the evaluation workshop. The expectations that participants formulated during the kick-off workshop are compared to their actual experiences. Together we find the reasons why participants’ expectations did or did not match their experiences. Valuable lessons for future peer-to-peer energy trading communities arise from this: We can formulate better practices, and we can draw conclusions about the role of justice and inclusiveness in energy communities.
All of this knowledge is essential for fostering a new energy culture. Citizen Energy Communities play an active role in the autonomous production, consumption and trading of citizen’s own renewable energy.