Sending electricity from the solar panels on the school building to the surrounding apartments was supposed to be a reality from the middle of next year. The amendment to the Energy Act, the so-called Lex OZE II, which regulates power sharing, is now undergoing comments in the Chamber of Deputies, and it looks like they may even postpone the start of community energy in the Czech Republic.
In the amendment, the Economic Committee of the Chamber of Deputies supported an unobtrusive legislative-technical change, which, however, may delay the possibility of sharing electricity, even by several years, according to interest groups. The change says that electricity sharing will not be possible until the Electricity Data Center (EDC) Order is ready.
In order for community energy to take off, according to some members of parliament, the creation of a data center is a necessary link that will enable power sharing. “We will have no way to measure electricity flows, which is impossible without a data center. Without him, sharing would have no meaning,” describes MP and chairman of the PSP Economic Committee Ivan Adamec (ODS).
The purpose of the electricity data center is to adjust data flows between customers, distributors or the ČEPS transmission system operator. Its regulations then regulate the rules for the settlement of sharing participants, which concern, for example, the settlement of shared electricity between energy communities and active customers.
Community energy in the Czech Republic
- Community energy is based on the idea that a group of consumers can jointly produce and consume energy within an energy community. It is primarily electricity produced from renewable sources.
- The amendment to the Energy Act on community energy, or Lex OZE II, introduces new concepts such as active customer or energy community into the Czech legislation.
- The energy community will be intended for energy sharing within larger groups of up to 1,000 members. They will be able to share with each other the energy they produce from joint factories. Members of these associations will be able to be, for example, associations of unit owners, households, municipalities, schools, authorities or small businesses.
- An active customer can be a group of up to ten people who produce energy together and share it among themselves. This is, for example, an individual who generates electricity on the roof of his cottage, but only uses it during the weekend and sends the generated electricity to his apartment in the city during the week. In this case, no territorial restrictions will apply.
- Energy sharing is possible, for example, in France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Denmark or Belgium. In the Czech Republic, there is still no legislation that would allow this. However, this should change from 2024 and community energy should take off in the country as well.
“First of all, it should be emphasized that the preparations for the creation and start of the EDC have been going on for a long time, and I do not expect that there will be any unplanned delay with the start of sharing. No other solution would lead to a faster start, as it is still necessary to amend the relevant decrees and adjust the IT systems of individual market participants,” said deputy Robert Teleky (KDU-ČSL).
The wording of the conditions for sharing is already being worked on and the wording could enter the public consultation process shortly after the amendment comes into effect. “We are cooperating with the ERO on the decree on the content of the Order, and it is largely ready,” says Marek Vošahlík, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MPO).
However, until EDC services are available, electricity sharing will only be possible to a limited extent. “Some are pushing the saw, but EDC will be ready in 2026, when electricity storage or aggregation will also be addressed. Then it will be possible to share electricity within the entire republic, but until then sharing will be possible in some limited form,” adds Adamec.
However, according to the MPO, which is the creator of the amendment, the EDC Order can be completed and effective without the data center existing, even though the EDC Order was originally supposed to be completed with the start of the EDC itself. EDC should be launched in July 2026. However, the first sharing of electricity is already planned for the third quarter of next year.
Even Minister of the Environment Petr Hladík (KDU-ČSL) recognizes that EDC will facilitate sharing. “EDC is one of the parameters, but not absolutely necessary,” describes Hladík.
However, MP Martin Kolovratník (ANO) does not agree with this, because the establishment of the center and its rules must go hand in hand. “I am convinced that the system can only work as a whole. That is, with a functional EDC, including its order. Or vice versa – I cannot imagine how individual players and participants should and could function and fulfill the order if there was no infrastructure (tool) that would implement this,” Kolovratník describes.
If, according to these considerations, the order is not ready, those interested in sharing the current can say goodbye to their plans for the time being. In addition, there is no deadline in the legislation by which the rules should be ready.
Among the amendments, large energy companies slipped in a subtle change to the Energy Data Center, which will allow them to delay the start of sharing for several years.
According to interest groups, this is an attempt to slow down the effectiveness of the amendment. “Among the amendments, large energy companies slipped in a subtle change to the Energy Data Center, which will allow them to delay the start of sharing for several years. When approving the law, the parliamentarians still have a difficult and detailed job to fend off sophisticated attacks by established big players against community energy,” says Jiří Koželouh, head of the RAINBOW Movement’s energy program.
However, the MPO rejects this. “The proposed amendment according to the aforementioned amendment does not lead to a shift or postponement of the start of electricity sharing according to its proposal in Lex OZE II. This is not a substantive amendment, but only a legislative and technical one. Its goal is to specify and clarify the transitional provision,” said Vošahlík.
Some amendments also concern voting rights within energy communities. Currently, the maximum share of one municipality is limited to 10 percent of the vote, but some would like to increase this share.
“I’m against it because it smells a bit like business. It is not about business, but about the efficient use of energy from renewable sources. Even in a company, it is important how many shares you have in order to control it. This isn’t about taking over the community, it’s about making it work. It is not possible for municipalities to have more than 10 percent, which is also against the European directive, because community energy would become municipal energy,” explains Adamec.
Other changes in the amendment, on the other hand, will support sharing. “I strongly hope that in the third reading, those proposals will be voted on that will enable the development of community energy essentially immediately after the law comes into force,” says Hladík.
The possibilities of sharing electricity will be expanded by the amendment, which allows the contribution organizations of cities and municipalities, such as homes for the elderly or sports facilities, to become members of the energy communities.
“Six out of 10 municipalities in the Czech Republic are interested in increasing their energy self-sufficiency and developing community energy and making more use of energy management. That is why I particularly value the assurance that all subsidized organizations of municipalities and regions can be members of energy communities,” says Michal Svoboda, energy manager of the Association of Local Self-Governments of the Czech Republic.
The committee also pushed for a deadline for installing continuous metering for community members and other sharing participants. “The amendments proposed by the Economic Committee will make community energy more accessible to people and municipalities. For example, they oblige distributors to install continuous electricity meters for members of energy communities within a period of three months,” says Ondřej Pašek, energy expert of the DUHA Movement and Union of Community Energy.
The amendment should go to the next reading in the House of Representatives on November 14. “Now the generally well-prepared amendment needs to be approved as soon as possible, so that the first community projects with electricity sharing can start in July 2024,” says Pašek. It must then be approved by the Senate and signed by the President.
The approval of the amendment on community energy has dragged on since the Ministry of Industry and Trade presented it in November 2022. Subsequently, the legislation went through a comment procedure, where it faced comments from both distributors, interest groups, and the Legislative Council of the Government.