Energy Decentralization - The Public Prosumer" was the theme of the second panel under debate at the Conference promoted by TELLES and APREN (Renewable Energy Association).
The event took place last Tuesday in Lisbon under the motto of "The Energy Transition Challenge".Moderated by Catarina Godinho Santos, a TELLES associate, this second panel was marked by the perspective of the sector's agents on a "paradigm shift" and where "the consumer themselves becomes an energy producer". This is a new reality in terms of "territorial expression", where "new energy realities" and a "new figure" appear in the energy panorama: "the Prosumer". Regarding this scenario, the moderator launched the debate on whether "policies have kept up with this reality? Have you been an example to follow? And are they really Prosumers?”
Maria José Rodrigues, from Lisbon E-Nova, stresses that the Lisbon Energy Agency is "aligned" with the municipality regarding "the city's energy and environmental policy". Last year, “we ensured the approval of the Energy and Sustainable Climate Plan”, an instrument voted by the Municipal Assembly with unanimity”. This means that, in this plan, Lisbon institutionalized the vision that governs the country: the 2050 Carbon Neutrality", emphasizes the lecturer, warning, however, that there must be "very ambitious objectives from the point of view of energy efficiency and in the mobility sector", such as the solar energy target of "8 MW of installed capacity in buildings. When it was established, we were starting from a baseline of 2 to 3 MW", stated Maria José Rodrigues. At the moment, "we are predicting a 4x increase in installed capacity", which means "a big leap" both in terms of council investment and from the private and business sectors.
This jump will be even greater in 2030 with the aim of having 100 MW of installed capacity in the capital. Maria José Rodrigues stresses that the municipality of Lisbon is pursuing a policy of “making energy communities effective. We have a very large void here, and there is a desire to create an aggregation market and a different logic from what we have". This vision that "we can consume at one time and produce at another across different production points" can be driven by a decree-law that governs these issues but "has gone unnoticed. As this is not a licensing regime, it institutes an incentive to collective electric mobility, and completely omits what is meant by renewable production when it comes to procedures".
Municipalities can also be Prosumers
The city of Lisbon has several projects on the table. Such as the installation of a 2MW photovoltaic plant on unused cemetery land. This topic, and electric buses, "which are also arriving", are "hot" topics at the Council. Electric mobility is undoubtedly a "focus" point in the Roadmap to Neutrality, in the Energy and Climate Plan and in the municipalities, "who manage" these topics, says Maria José Rodrigues.
Another perspective of the city of Lisbon is "assets" regarding the city's over 600 buildings. There is a "proactivity to Lisbon", says Maria José Rodrigues, noting that the municipality is responsible for managing the residential market, "not only of what exists but of investment in new housing". The lecturer says that the market is undergoing "profound renovations to mitigate the effects of energy poverty", with the "possibility" of energy production "for communal areas through a large system for urban environments". However, this energy can only be used in communal areas, and a large amount is being wasted, and "could benefit the inhabitants, a large majority of whom have access to a social tariff". The lecturer stresses that the greatest difficulty will be "to make legislation on self-consumption evolve", and it will be necessary "to face aggregation at network level and who will pay for it with courage".
On the other hand, "electrical decentralization seems to have already reached the city of Porto". As stated by Rui Pimenta, from the Porto Energy Agency. Rui Pimenta presented a "practical case" where the municipality of Porto is clearly shown to be a Prosumer.
With a "panoply" of municipal buildings with great sun exposure that are suitable and available for photovoltaic production, like Lisbon, Porto is a city "attentive" to this issue. Rui Pimenta also added that about "15 % of residential housing" in Porto "is municipal property".
Supported by the Porto Energy Agency, a photovoltaic project invests in schools and in a pedagogical approach, “mirroring the fact that photovoltaic projects have great potential and are the future”, he explains. The project is already in the final phase, but other projects are about to be opened to tender, such as the installation of 34 plants, which will "save the municipality 200 thousand euros per year", with a "five-year payback" and a "17 % injection in the network".
For 2020, the main objective of Porto City Council is to "introduce another 2 MW". Although there are buildings with less potential, and where photovoltaic panels cannot be placed, Rui Pimenta is categorical when stating that "there is a diversity of other solutions appropriate to our municipal reality". However, it is necessary to be aware of some challenges such as the "urgent definition of energy communities" and a "legal framework for this issue". The expectation is to "increase the number of installations" and this will "force an adaptation of the distribution network to low voltage". Last but not least, are electric vehicles that "operate with load management devices". He emphasizes that, at the end of the day, the "quality of the electricity service provided to consumers" must be guaranteed.
On the Lisbon side, Maria José Rodrigues warns of the need for "speed in the process. We are all aligned". For the lecturer, it is essential to "experiment with models" of "physical or virtual aggregation. As our understanding is poor, we must experiment", she says.
Rui Pimenta, on the other hand, assesses the importance of municipalities being an "integral part" in this process. "Much of this theme is lived out in cities, and municipalities are available to suggest legislative amendments, and to achieve the goals that have been set", for example, in the 2050 Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality.