In the last few years, we have been talking a lot about community energy. Energy Cities is part of the Community Power coalition, an advocacy group of like-minded organisations who share a common goal of promoting the development of citizen and community ownership of energy. Since the end of 2018, the European legislation recognises citizens and communities as main actors of the energy system and Member States are supposed to do the same and enable them, by transposing these new rights at national level.
Find more #CommunityPower success stories in our guidebook !
We frequently hear about successful community energy projects spurring all over Europe…some of those projects are led by our members. I was surprised to see how many of them are active in this field and how many are planning to launch energy partnerships with their community. We hope these examples will motivate more cities to “reclaim the power”, but if you want to learn more or if you know about additional cases, do not hesitate to get in touch with me.
Setting up individual renewable energy system is not always an option, especially in cities where the majority of the population lives in flats. That is why in Vienna, the city-owned energy utility Wien Energie, launched the “Citizen’s power plants” in 2012. The municipal company Wien Energie installs solar panels on suitable buildings and offers citizens the opportunity to buy a maximum of 10 at a price of 950 € per panel. Citizens then lease the modules back to Wien Energie and receive a yearly return on their investment, which can also be given as vouchers thanks to a collaboration with the SPAR supermarket chain. The owners always have the possibility to give the panel back to Wien Energie at the full price. At the end of the term of the rental agreement, the initial investment is returned to the investor.
The municipality of Mouscron was the first in Belgium to launch an energy cooperative back in 2017. Although a municipal initiative, COOPEM’s equity is mainly owned by citizens (55%), 15% being owned by the municipality and 30 % by two private partners providing experience and expertise. Thanks to bulk purchasing and a government’s subsidy, citizens benefited from a reduction on the cost of the installation, with the COOPEM taking responsibility for the administrative aspects and the work, using local installers to carry it out. More recently, the cooperative has been experimenting with collective self-consumption and supporting its members in the renovation of their homes.
Listen to our interview with Emmanuel Fontaine from Mouscron to learn more!
Together with the Belgian cooperative Ecopower, Leuven municipality created LICHT Leuven (Local Initiative for a Cooperative Renewable Transition), a broad partnership to increase the production of renewable energy with solar and wind projects, but also to reduce energy consumption in the city, for example through shared sustainable mobility options. LICHT Leuven aims to bring more than 40% of the city’s families into an energy cooperative by 2030, and wants to facilitate at least 50% of direct citizen participation in every new sustainable energy project.
Together with the Green Energy Cooperative (ZEZ), Krizevci’s administration (Croatia) and other local partners used the micro-loan crowdfunding model to involve the citizens in the installation of a PV solar plant on the rooftop of the local Development Centre and Technology Park. In 2018, they launched a campaign and in just 10 days, collected around €31,000: enough for the purchase of the necessary equipment and the installation.
A very similar initiative was taken by Barcelona City Council who, through the public company Tersa, launched “Share the sun” a crowdlending campaign to fund the construction of a solar installation at the Convent Sant Agustí community centre, an iconic building in the city. Citizens lend money to the city for the construction of the panels and gradually get them back with a small interest. A great way to get everyone involved in the city’s effort towards increasing its solar energy generation!
Our French member Lorient collaborated with the cooperative “Bretagne Énergies Citoyennes” for the OnCIMè initiative. This partnership combines an innovative PV panel rental scheme with citizen engagement activities around self-consumption. OnCIMè rents the solar panels to the municipality, to be installed on suitable public buildings. In 2019 they had more than 100 shareholders and nearly 400 rented PV panels!
The French city of Strasbourg initiated the project “Brasseurs d’Energie” (energy brewers) in 2020. The city is one of the shareholders and provides available roof space for solar PV. They aim to kick-start local renewable energy projects, to create new collaborations between local actors involved in the energy transition of their area, but also to enable responsible value-based investment.
We talked with the initiators of the Brasseurs d’Energie project. Listen to this episode of City Stories to learn more
Heerlen municipality (the Netherlands) wanted to install 5000 solar panels on the roofs of the buildings in the city centre, but soon realised that they could not make it on their own. They teamed up with a group of residents and created a solar cooperative in June 2020. Many young people are involved and formed different working groups to address the challenges encountered on the way. Future earnings of the cooperative will feed into a revolving fund to address energy poverty.
There is a kind of movement that cannot be stopped.Javier Zardoya, Pamplona Energy Agency
Other Energy Cities member are following these steps and launching community energy projects…And we are here to help them! Pamplona and Valencia (Spain) are going to collaborate with local energy cooperatives. Modena will soon develop a community energy project together with the Italian cooperative ènostra.
Listen to the latest episodes of City Stories to learn more about the soon to be developed projects in Modena and Pamplona
March 1, 2021