Energy communities

Housing companies can begin producing their own electricity more flexibly by setting up an energy community. In the past, a housing company's own power plant, such as solar panels, could only be used for communal electricity demand of the property, but the creation of an energy community allows the electricity produced to be used for the benefit of dwellings and commercial premises as well. The energy community is a service free for its members.

Typically, a housing company's solar panels are installed at the point of delivery of the property. The benefits of installing solar panels in housing companies depends on the ratio of the number of panels to the electricity use of the property. The greatest benefits come from maximising electricity consumption during the summer and in the middle of the day. The most cost-effective option is to scale your power plant so that you consume as much of the energy as possible.

The energy community will, for example, increase the potential use of solar power, increase the optimal number of solar panels, reduce the need to buy as much electricity from outside, make the investment costs of solar panels relatively cheaper, and reduce the payback period of the equipment. Furthermore, the housing company uses climate-friendly energy, and the value of the apartments grows with sustainable energy solutions.

The energy community can only have points of delivery under the same electricity connection, and the total nominal output of production must be less than 1 MVA.

However, an energy community does not need to be a housing company but can also be set up by any small producer with several points of delivery under their electricity connection. These include shopping centres, campus areas and agricultural properties.

Acquiring a generating plant for a housing company and the steps to set up an energy community


Assess the size of the panels, the return on investment and the price of the project

You can use Caruna's housing company solar panel calculator to calculate the potential output of solar panels for the housing company. The calculator retrieves the actual electricity consumption data of the housing company, and you see the share of consumption that could be covered by solar power. You can assess the price and optimal size of the project for your site.

Open calculator

Commission a survey

Select a consultant or electrical designer to conduct the survey. They will help determine the optimal size of the panel system to be purchased, prepare the material for tendering the purchase and installation of the solar panels, and investigate possible links to other projects or needs of the housing company. The connectivity of generating plants over 10 kW must be confirmed in advance by Caruna.


Invite panel suppliers to tender

Request tenders from panel suppliers for the installation of the equipment. A carefully conducted survey ensures the comparability of the tenders.


Decisions by the general meeting

Agree on the acquisition of the system in the general meeting. The general meeting also decides on setting up an energy community and on the distribution criteria among the apartments for the energy produced.


The Board of Directors/building manager orders the installation of the generating equipment

Order the installation of the generating equipment from your selected supplier.


A contractor installs the power plant and notifies Caruna of the installation

The electricity contractor installing the generating plant notifies Caruna of the details of the equipment to be installed on the production general request form and installs the generating equipment.


The building manager makes an agreement with an energy retailer on the sale of surplus electricity

Caruna will provide the site's production point of delivery identifier for agreement purposes once the electricity contractor has provided the installation 


Caruna grants permission to connect to the network, and the power plant is ready for use

Caruna will grant a connection permit for the generating equipment when an agreement for the sale of surplus electricity has been concluded with an electricity supplier and the electricity supplier has notified Caruna of the agreement.


The representative of the housing company registers the energy community in Caruna's online service

Make a notification of the establishment of an energy community, the allocation method of production, and the allocated shares on Caruna's website. In an SMB allocation energy community, an apartment-specific generation point of delivery is set up for each member so that an agreement can be concluded with an electricity supplier to purchase the surplus generation. An SMB-type community can be set up when the agreements of all points of delivery are in order. The operation of the energy community will start automatically within 14 days of the establishment of the community.

Go to setting up an energy community

Reimbursement calculation

Reimbursement calculation is virtual metering that calculates and allocates the output of the energy community's power plant. Reimbursement calculation does not require new electricity meters for the members of the energy community.

Reimbursement calculation can be implemented in two ways. In both cases, the surplus production from the property is allocated to the apartments according to distribution proportions defined by the energy community, usually in the same proportion as the shareholders pay their service charges. If the distribution proportions follow another principle, it must be recorded in the articles of association.

Option 1 (SMA): The housing company sells the unused production

  • If the apartment cannot use all of the production allocated to it, the unused production will be transferred to the housing company, which sells it to the selected electricity supplier. This could be the case, for example, on a sunny summer day when electricity consumption in the apartment is low.

Option 2 (SMB): The apartments sell the unused production in accordance with the decided distribution proportions

  • If the apartment does not use all of the production allocated to it, the apartment will sell the unused production to the selected electricity supplier. Therefore, each member of the energy community must conclude an individual agreement for the sale of surplus electricity with their selected supplier.
  • If the electricity is disconnected from one of the apartments belonging to the energy community, the share will be sold by the housing company.

For both types of allocation, the output of generating equipment up to 100 kW and the consumption at the point of delivery are first netted on an hourly basis at the point of delivery where the generating equipment is located. The surplus production after netting is divided among the members of the energy community in the proportions notified by the energy community. The production distributed to the members of the energy community and the point-of-delivery consumption are also netted on an hourly basis. If there is still surplus production, it is transferred for sale according to the model chosen.

How an energy community could benefit you

A housing company in southern Finland contains 30 row houses that consume a total of approximately 100 MWh of electricity annually. Every year, approximately 15 MWh of electricity is consumed on the property for communal purposes, and the company also uses district heating. When solar energy is used, district heating is not the best form of heating in terms of minimising the electricity consumption on the property, and the households then account for a greater share of the electricity consumption.

Despite using district heating, the housing company benefits from an energy community. The optimal size of the company's solar panels increased threefold, leading to greater savings in terms of household and property electricity consumption. In addition, substantially less surplus electricity is left for sale.

Although the housing company has optimised the scale of its solar panels, the company does not always consume all the electricity it generates, especially in the summer. In these cases, the surplus output is transmitted to the network and bought by an electricity supplier.

Overall, solar panels have often been loss-making investments for properties with district heating, but energy communities have turned this calculation on its head thanks to the reimbursements that are paid.

Benefits of solar panels designed to cover only the communal energy consumed by the property, not the householdsBenefits of solar panels designed to cover the housing company's entire energy consumption (energy community)
Optimal size of the panel array: 5 kWpOptimal size of the panel array: 15 kWp
Approximate price: EUR 7,000Approximate system price: EUR 18,000
Saving in property communal electricity: 20% (EUR 300/year)Saving in property communal electricity: 30% (EUR 500/year)
Saving in household electricity consumption: 0Saving in household electricity consumption: 10% (EUR 1,100/year)
Surplus electricity for sale: 40% (EUR 50/year)Surplus electricity for sale: 10% (EUR 50/year)
Break-even period: 27 yearsBreak-even period: 14 years
Return on investment: 3%Return on investment: 8%


Is there a cost to an energy community or to setting one up?

No. The energy community is a free service provided by Caruna to its customers.

Can I give my unused surplus electricity to my neighbour?

If the resident is unable to use the power plant's output allocated to them, it will be sold to the electricity supplier selected by the housing company or the dwelling. Surplus electricity cannot be donated or sold to a neighbour.

How much will the optimal power of solar panels increase if we are connected to an energy community?

With an energy community, the housing company can also start generating electricity for the residents' needs. The equation is not a pure addition, but depends a lot on the distribution of energy demand over time.

In general, the demand for electricity for communal purposes is moderately steady throughout the day and residents' demand is concentrated in the morning and evening. The calculation should be made based on the combined new demand.

If the housing company has a large number of dwellings, the increase can easily be three-fold or even significantly higher.

Will the housing company need new meters as a result of the energy community?

The energy community is a service provided by Caruna to its customers, where the distribution of electricity takes place with the help of reimbursement calculation. Reimbursement calculation is virtual metering, so no technical changes are needed for the calculation and distribution of the production by the housing company's solar panels: no new meters or changes to current meters. 

Can the housing company receive a grant for an energy project?

It is worth applying for a grant, especially if several measures (for example, switching to geothermal heating and installing charging poles and solar panels) will improve the energy efficiency (E-factor) of the housing company.

Caruna wants to be involved in the fight against climate change and to promote the possibilities of its customers to take climate action easily and effortlessly. Examples of this include encouraging the production of solar power and electric motoring. 

Is the housing company obligated to pay value added tax on the electricity it sells?

In its preliminary ruling (KHO:2021:20), the Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that minor and occasional surplus sales do not give rise to VAT liability.

When the system is sized to produce electricity primarily for the use of the housing company and its residents, this requirement is well fulfilled. The sale of surplus production generated during sunny and low consumption hours is normal in a correctly sized system. 

What if the housing company does not set up an energy community?

During the sunny hours of summer, even a small number of panels can easily produce more electricity than can be used for the property's communal technical and lighting needs. In this case, the surplus from the property is sold to the electricity supplier instead of being used by the energy community for the residents' own electricity consumption. However, the best value for money is obtained by using as much of the production as possible for own consumption.