From Idea to Product – What is the Energy Community in Aschaffenburg?

Strom Community in Aschaffenburg, Deutschland


What is the objective of an Energy Community

Essential requirements for the operation of energy communities are a secure digital connection of the participants as well as a high-performance, software-based balancing. More and more energy suppliers and communities are relying on the services and solutions of coneva GmbH from Munich, the subsidiary for digital services of SMA Solar Technology AG.

The basic principle of energy communities is the creation of decentralized energy markets in which energy producers, consumers and prosumers come together and benefit from each other – ecologically as well as financially. With our SaaS solution “coneva Community”, we connect both private and commercial consumers and prosumers and measure electricity generation as well as consumption in real time. The data flows together in our local energy management system, where self-consumption is optimized and surplus electricity is shared with others.

The result? Self-sufficient on-site energy supply. Generate electricity and share it with the utility community nearby. No long transport routes, no billions spent on expensive grid expansion – the energy is consumed where it is generated. Now also in Aschaffenburg.

Interview on the Energy Community in Aschaffenburg

In this article, we let our project partner and initiator of the Aschaffenburg Energy Community, Mr. Jürgen Schnack, have his say.

Mr. Schnack, which customer needs are addressed by the Electricity Community in Aschaffenburg?

“Social, economic and geopolitical developments are driving the trend for more and more people to join together in communities of interest and want to be independent. Through our electricity community, we believe we are meeting this need. Because in the community of the many producers in the urban area, a new feeling of togetherness is created, which gradually manifests itself in the increased independence from conventional energy supply,” says Jürgen Schnack, head of sales and energy management at AVG, explaining the decision to implement an Energy Community.

Value creation in the region also played a major role in the decision. Even when surplus electricity is simply fed back into the grid, the value added leaves the region via the EEG subsidy.

Mr. Schnack: “We would like to contribute to the fact that the creation of value remains in the region. And in doing so, we also relieve the EEG subsidy pot. For us as an innovative municipal utility, it has become clear in the meantime: A rethink among Germany’s energy suppliers is necessary. Because the times when you can earn money with the pure supply of energy are over in the future. That’s why we at Stadtwerke Aschaffenburg (AVG) are already taking the path of evolving from a pure energy supplier to a solution-oriented service provider.”

What is the incentive for AVG customers to join the energy community?

“Each participant can monitor and analyze the energy flows in their household and those in the community via smartphone app from anywhere. The participant who generates at least as much electricity within a billing period as they consume in the same period will no longer receive an electricity bill.” – Mr. Schnack explains. “There is only a service fee to pay, which covers the operation of the community, the provision of the energy management system in the meter cabinet and the use of the app.”

Are there infrastructural benefits from the use of energy communities in AVG’s grid area, such as in reducing grid expansion?

Mr. Schnack: “The results from the analysis of the energy flow data within the community have yet to prove that. Since the community is not limited to one part of the grid, but is distributed within the entire, strongly meshed low-voltage grid, no reductions in grid expansion are to be expected initially. However, new issues related to grid construction and grid topology can certainly be expected to be raised.”

What hurdles have there been or are there in implementing the idea?

“On the one hand, the hurdles lie in the regulatory framework, which does not provide for such models in Germany. But the hurdles also lie in the technological design and in the commercial design of the offering,” explains Jürgen Schnack.

And now to the last question. Mr. Schnack, to what extent do you think the Energy Community model has potential for the rest of Germany?

“After all, we are not founding the first Community in Germany. There were, or are, community attempts again and again. Ultimately, it depends on the model that, on the one hand, keeps the whole energy business part away from the customer (principle of simplicity), but, on the other hand, also makes it more attractive for the service provider. If we succeed in combining both, the model will have potential for the whole of Germany.”

Mr. Schnack, thank you very much for the interview and the great cooperation in our joint project!

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