Community energy (CE) initiatives have been progressively spreading across Europe and are increasingly proposed as innovative and alternative approaches to guarantee higher citizen participation in the transition toward cleaner energy systems. This paper focuses the attention on Italy, a Southern European country characterized by relatively low CE sector development. It fills a gap in the literature by eliciting and presenting novel and comprehensive evidence on recent Italian CE sector developments. Through a stepwise approach it systematically maps and reviews Italian CE initiatives, to then focus the attention on three specific case studies to further explore conditions for development as well as of success within the Italian energy system. The analysis presents an Italian CE sector still at its niche level, characterized by small initiatives largely dependent on national photovoltaics (PV) policy support. It also points out how only larger initiatives, able to operate at national scale, developing multiple projects and differentiating their activities have managed to continue growing at the time of discontinuity of policy support and contraction of the national renewable energy market. Recent EU and national legislative development might support revived development of CE initiatives in Italy.
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