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Innovative Solar District Powers Itself

The German utility Eon and Adeje, a municipality in southwest Tenerife, are building an innovative energy community. It is the first of its kind in Europe and so far the largest solar district in Spain. Their goal: energy to come entirely from local, renewable sources.

According to Eon, the Adeje Verde pilot project is the first self-consumption energy community in Europe with a citizen participation approach. Around 200 consumers are connected to a photovoltaic system within a 500-metre radius. The residents as well as surrounding institutions are to generate, share and jointly use electricity from renewables in the future.

New EU electricity market directive implemented

The project is based on the new Electricity Market Directive (Article 16) of the EU's 2019 Clean Energy Package, which states that surplus energy from photovoltaics no longer has to be fully fed into the grid, but can also be made available to neighbours at a reduced price. This regulatory adjustment forms the basis for the first energy community in the Canary Islands. "Spain is a pioneer with regard to the new regulation and thus the ideal place for a pilot project as a blueprint for Europe-wide approaches. In this way, citizens can actively, easily and quickly contribute to a sustainable and more affordable energy transition," says Eon manager Luis Hernandez.

In the future, the energy community will consist of a large number of local areas arranged in a circle, each with a solar roof system in the centre that is operated by a prosumer. Each of these installations supplies solar energy to a number of consumers in the immediate neighbourhood within a radius of 500 metres. The first system was installed on the roof of the Adeje Music School. As of August 2022, around 200 households will be collectively supplied with energy from the system, representing a market share of 14 per cent in the first solar circuit. The school's photovoltaic system will generate an estimated 149 megawatt hours per year.

Citizens without their own solar systems can also participate

The potential of such solar circuits is enormous. In parallel, Eon is working to expand the availability of new solar power systems in Adeje. In this way, people who do not have space for their own solar system can also benefit from the advantages of solar energy. The overall goal of the pilot project is therefore that all citizens of Adeje have the opportunity to access local solar energy in their neighbourhood. In this way, the region should become the fastest growing energy community in Europe.

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