Cleanwatts, together with the Azorean company Kinergy, is set to implement the first Renewable Energy Community (REC) in the Azores. This initiative is being promoted by the Ribeira Grande City Council, and the Coimbra-based climate tech company hopes it will be “the start of the energy transition in the Azores too”.
According to Maria João Benquerença, Director of Energy Communities at Cleanwatts, “it’s a joy to be involved in the first Energy Community in the archipelago, after already being a pioneering company in the creation of RECs in mainland Portugal”.
For her, this community in the Azores has the special advantage of being “based on investments that had already been made by the municipality, boosting the valorization of existing resources and the sharing of the benefits within the community”.
The REC will be created based on the photovoltaic capacity previously installed by the municipality, aiming to producing renewable energy in public buildings, for which the investment was subsidized by 85% through the Azores 2020 program, with the aim of increasing the energy efficiency of public buildings and reducing energy bills. Therefore, the REC will assure the possibility to value and make the most of the investment already made by the municipality, by allowing the surplus (energy produced but not consumed locally) to be shared with REC members in the vicinity, allowing savings on energy bills. The municipality will now identify the 30 or so families who could be part of this community, thus benefiting from shared, clean energy, at a reduced rate.
The mayor of Ribeira Grande, Alexandre Gaudêncio, points out that “this REC comes as a result of the investment made by the municipality with the installation of photovoltaic panels on public buildings”.
“The idea, from now on, is to share the surplus of renewable energy production with the community. The aim is to reduce the energy bills of everyone who joins the community,” he said, adding that he intends to “implement the same model in industrial zones, as a way of attracting new companies to the municipality”.