Energy communities

Housing companies can begin generating their own electricity more flexibly by setting up an energy community. Previously, housing companies were only able to generate electricity to cover their property's own needs, such as providing power for shared areas, technical equipment and lighting. Setting up an energy community enables residential and commercial units to consume the generated electricity.

The most cost-effective option is to scale your power plant so that you consume as much of the energy as possible. An energy community enables you to decide upon a power plant investment that covers your housing company's entire consumption.  

The electricity generated by the housing company can be divided among the members of the energy community by calculating the applicable proportions – it is not necessary to change the electricity meter connections. The jointly generated energy is divided among the members of the energy community in the agreed proportions. For example, it may be 10% per household. 

Any small-scale electricity generator can establish an energy community. These can also include shopping centres, campus areas and agricultural properties with several meters.

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 other 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, as 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 real estate electricity consumption. In addition, substantially less surplus electricity is sold. 

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 grid and bought by an electricity retailer. 

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

How to set up an energy community in a housing company

  1. The housing company reads the energy community information 
  2. The Board of Directors carries out the necessary surveys and requests quotes to install the electricity generation equipment 
  3. A decision is taken at the general meeting of shareholders on whether to invest and set up an energy community 
  4. The Board of Directors/building manager orders the installation of the electricity generation equipment 
  5. A contractor installs the equipment and notifies Caruna 
  6. The building manager makes an agreement with an energy retailer on the sale of surplus electricity 
  7. Caruna grants permission to connect to the network, and the power plant is ready for use. 
  8. A representative of the housing company, such as the building manager, sets up a solar community on virtane.fi 
  9. The energy community begins operating automatically
Read more on the Virtane service