The business model of solar energy communities: a case study from Portugal
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What is the self-consumption solar energy community The main objective of this research is to understand how the business model of Solar Neighbourhoods is developed, which characteristics are most valued by stakeholders and possible implications for the model. According to the European Union's own guidelines, its members should promote energy efficiency, the use of renewable energies and the development of new energy solutions to have a positive impact on global warming. In this context, energy communities were created, where renewable solar energy is produced and shared by its members, being the members defined between producers, who produce electricity, and neighbors, who use the energy from solar panels. The panels are installed in the producer's space and all members of the ecosystem can benefit from a reduced price on the electricity bill they self-consume from the neighborhood. According to the standards released by the European Commission, energy communities can be characterized by the organization of collective energy efforts addressed to members of the local geographical community. In doing so, they can contribute to increasing public acceptance of renewable energy projects and facilitate the attraction of private investments in the clean energy transition. In order to answer the research question, a large company in the energy sector in Portugal was chosen that already presents the solution of communities in its portfolio. With this, several indepth interviews were conducted with members of the company's board, existing customers, and potential customers to capture in depth what the business model of the so-called "Solar Neighbourhoods" and its impacts. From the results of the interviews, it was possible to structure a business model for this solution, understand its value proposition and attributes, as well as what are the main points of improvement and existing challenges for the. Factors such as attractive price, ease of implementation, credibility of the company and sustainable impact were considered most relevant to stakeholders, but it was interesting to perceive and analyse the criticality of each theme for the ecosystem and divergences in what is communicated by the company and what is received by customers.