Renewable energy communities: Do they have a business case in Flanders?

Alex Felice, Lucija Rakocevic, Leen Peters, Maarten Messagie, Thierry Coosemans, Luis Ramirez Camargo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Renewable energy communities (RECs) are prominent initiatives to provide end consumers an active role in the energy sector, raise awareness on the importance of renewable energy (RE) technologies and increase their share in the energy system thus reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The economic viability of RECs though, depends on multiple interdependent factors that require careful examination for each individual context. This study aims at investigating the impact of electricity tariffs, ratio of electrification of heating and transportation sectors, prices of RE technologies and storage systems, and internal electricity exchange prices on the annual cost for electricity provision of a REC and its GHG emissions. A mixed-integer linear model is developed to minimize energy provision costs for a representative REC in Flanders, Belgium. The results indicate that RECs have the potential to reduce these costs by 10 to 26% and emissions by 5 to 13% compared to business-as-usual. The cost reduction depends on the type of electricity tariffs and the level of uptake of flexible assets such as heat pumps and electric vehicles. The shift towards a higher power component in the electricity tariff makes electricity storage systems more attractive, which leads to higher electricity self-consumption. The introduction of flexible assets adds the possibility to shift demand when tariffs are lower and makes higher installed capacities of photovoltaic systems economically viable due to the increase in the total electricity demand. However, RECs cost reduction compared to individual smart-homes amounts to only 4%–6% in the best cases. Uncertainties stemming from the costs of setting up a REC may reduce the estimated benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119419
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2022


  • Renewable energy communities
  • Multi-energy system optimization
  • Energy transition
  • Demand side management
  • Electrification


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