In Ganshoren, a school will now supply energy to an entire neighbourhood
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In Ganshoren, a school will now supply energy to an entire neighbourhood

At a reduced price, an energy community of 12 consumers buys excess renewable electricity produced locally by the solar panels on the "Nos Bambins" school in Ganshoren. This is the very first collective self-consumption experiment in Brussels initiated by APERe (the Association for the Promotion of Renewable Energies), in collaboration with Sibelga.

This first collective self-consumption community initiated by the APERe (Association for the Promotion of Renewable Energies), aims to allow neighbouring buildings to benefit, at an attractive rate, from the surplus production of the solar panels installed at the " Nos Bambins" school in Ganshoren. In doing so, the principle of collective self-consumption makes renewable energy accessible to all and makes a real contribution to the achievement of climate objectives by reducing CO2 emissions

Energy Minister Alain Maron points out that "Renewable energy communities are one step towards the energy transition we want to achieve. These innovative and creative projects make it possible to make the most of renewable energies and provide as many people as possible with access to affordable and local energy. This means that a Brussels household which has its roof in the shade or which does not have the means to set it up, will still be able to benefit from solar electricity, which is ecologically and financially more advantageous.  Decentralisation of production and management offers opportunities for local players - communities, citizens, SMEs - to contribute to the transition towards a low-carbon and more resilient Region. The first pilot projects will enable us to create a favourable framework for the development of energy communities in the Region".

In total, about 12 consumers have joined the community. These include local authority buildings such as libraries or citizens’ advice bureaux, as well as private individuals. It is worth pointing out that one of the private individuals is also set up with a small solar panel installation and joins the community with two hats on: as a consumer and a producer sharing his energy. 

As Benjamin Wilkin, Director of the APERe, points out : "We are at a turning point in the evolution of the electricity market. This project shows us that it is possible to put the quest for social, environmental and economic benefits ahead of financial profit. Moreover, management is guided by the principles of the social economy, namely, democracy, solidarity and the primacy of the individual over capital. Feedback from this practice will be taken on board by the authorities to define a solid and workable legal framework on a large scale in order to transpose the European Directives that give all consumers the right to produce, consume, store and sell renewable electricity”. 

Sibelga, serving the people of Brussels and the energy transition

The arrival of collective self-consumption brings with it new missions for Sibelga in line with the needs of the citizens of Brussels. As is already the case for the gas and electricity supply market, Sibelga is to play the role of facilitator in this new market, in particular by ensuring the safety of the installations and by transmitting all the data required for sending bills (e.g. meter readings every quarter of an hour) on a monthly basis to the organising legal entity in charge of the community. Sibelga also provides support by answering questions from project leaders or by delivering the technical information needed to define the electrical scope. Sibelga will also, if necessary, replace conventional meters with communicating meters once BRUGEL has granted the exemption.

"Renewable energy communities are an essential link in the energy transition. Thanks to innovative and creative projects, such as the one carried out in Ganshoren, it is now possible to make the most of green energy at a more advantageous price and thus combat fuel poverty. As a trusted partner, Sibelga intends to facilitate access to more sustainable and cleaner energy for all the people of Brussels, by enabling different players in the same neighbourhood to meet and pool their efforts in favour of the climate," says Marie-Pierre Fauconnier, Managing Director of Sibelga.

Note that the photovoltaic installation on the roofs of the "Nos Bambins" school is also managed by Sibelga within the framework of the SolarClick programme, designed to equip the roofs of Brussels public buildings with solar panels.

In practice

In concrete terms, consumers wishing to benefit from a self-producer's surplus of green, local energy must be bound together within a legal entity. 

In the case in point, the initiator of the project, APERe set up the ASBL Les Bambins, acts as the organising legal entity. To this end, it has signed an agreement with Sibelga setting out the terms and conditions for the distribution of production between the various consumers and also the conditions for the sale of energy, since Sibelga is also the manager of one of the solar installations concerned.

This is only the beginning...

BRUGEL is currently analysing other collective self-consumption project applications. New communities should be created soon!

In addition, the regulator has set up a dedicated website to promote this new regulation: Anyone wishing to obtain opt-outs will find all the information they need on the opt-out framework there, and also the presentation forms for the projects already accepted and a map of Brussels with the different renewable energy community projects.