Energy communities for a just post-lignite future

Delving into the crucial realm of fostering a just transition within Greece’s lignite regions, Nikos Mantzaris shares insights in an interview with Clima 21 on the broader role of energy communities in the green transition, their impact on the energy landscape and their essential contribution to tackling energy poverty and ensuring energy democracy.

Nikos Mantzaris mapped the trajectory of energy communities from the founding law of 2018 until today and how they have evolved into a valuable tool for just transition, especially in the lignite regions of the country. As he noted, “they empower local communities to actively participate in the transition, while providing a safety net against energy poverty.”

A significant breakthrough was the decision to financially support non-profit energy communities in the framework of the Just Transition Territorial Plans and the Just Transition Development Programme, following relevant advocacy efforts. In fact, Nikos Mantzaris responded to arguments about competition against “big” energy players and pointed out the problem of grid space availability, welcoming the provision in the recent law (5037/2023) to reserve 2 GW of grid space exclusively for self-production projects, including those by energy communities.

Moreover, energy communities can be used to develop electricity storage systems and thus mitigate grid availability problems. They can also contribute towards covering heating needs as well as energy upgrading the households of their members.

Finally, by contributing to the creation of a different energy model, based on decentralisation and participation, energy communities also act as a catalyst for the promotion of energy democracy.

The interview of Nikos Mantzaris in Clima 21 was published on 20 March 2024. It is available at (in Greek). It was also republished by Athens Voice (in Greek).