The most experienced actors in introducing the new concepts of shared economy and connecting the community power in the energy sector are energy cooperatives. They drive the development of the energy communities across the Europe. In the COMPILE project 4 cooperatives (REScoop.EU, ZEZ, Coopernico and GrupoEnercoop) are project partners.
COMPILE sister projects
COMPILE sister projects are projects that were funded under the same H2020 program H2020-EU.3.3.4. – A single, smart European electricity grid, topic: LC-SC3-ES-3-2018-2020 – Integrated local energy systems (Energy islands). They all deal with energy communities, energy systems and integration of RES.
MERLON introduces an integrated modular local energy management framework for the holistic operational optimisation of local energy systems in presence of high shares of volatile distributed renewable energy sources. Optimisation in MERLON applies to multiple levels spanning optimal coordination of local generation as well as flexibility provision to facilitate maximum integration of renewable energy, avoidance of curtailment and satisfaction of balancing/ancillary grid needs.
The E-LAND project was developed on the basis that access to clean, affordable and efficient energy is a right for all and with the hopes that this project will improve quality of life, health and safety, as well as employment opportunities on an international scale.
The MUSE GRIDS project aims to increase the use of renewable energy resources at a local level through better integration, whilst also reducing carbon emissions. The project will provide solutions to maximise energy independence, improve energy efficiency, reduce operating costs and ensure an affordable energy supply for all.
IElectrix: European and Indian local energy communities for renewable integration and the energy transition.
RENAISSANCE project is an Innovation Action (IA) which aim is to deliver a community-driven scalable and replicable approach, to implement new business models and technologies supporting clean production and shared distribution of energy in local communities.
CREATORS is a Horizon 2020 EU funded project carried out by 17 partners from across Europe that aims to accelerate the integration of Community Energy Systems by supporting local initiators throughout the entire life cycle of a project and bring CES-as-a-service model to the market.
The ambition of BECoop is to provide the necessary conditions and technical as well as business support tools for unlocking the underlying market potential of community bioenergy, fostering new links and partnerships.
Project eCREW coordinates and supports the roll-out of an innovative scheme of household cooperation in energy management, addressing Community Renewable Energy Webs (CREWs), in which households jointly exploit household-level electricity generation and battery storage capacities and optimise energy efficiency and expenditures.
DECIDE is a Horizon 2020 project that aims to gain a better understanding of how energy communities and energy efficiency services are established and managed. It also intends to identify which kind of communications and interactions work best to encourage participation in energy communities for specific types of individuals and groups, and to test and transfer knowledge in pilot projects across Europe.
There are many examples of energy cooperatives that deal with energy communities, energy systems and integration of RES across Europe. Some of them are listed below.
Ecopower uses various renewable energy sources. They started producing hydropower from restored and modernized historical watermills, run several solar projects with schools and their members, and now own wind parks. Ecopower realised one of their first wind turbine projects in a record time of 22 months. The project concerned three wind turbines of which two were realised in only 10 months. Throughout the project there was no local opposition. Therefore, the project is considered a best practice in the speed of authorisation process. The project demonstrates many elements of how to best execute a REScoop project. Ecopower’s close collaboration with the local authorities combined with its carefully planned and executed process of open communication aiming to involve a maximum number of local citizens are success factors that contributed to speeding up the authorisation process.
The Electric cooperative of Gignod (CEG, Aosta Italy), active since 1927, started as a small hydroelectric cooperative but grew to a cooperative that controls the whole chain, from production to distribution and sale of electricity. The democratic and economic participation of the members proved to be a sustainable way of organising the REScoop for more than 90 years.
Combrailles Dubrailles is a REScoop of more than 300 cooperators. In the region of Combrailles in the heart of France a group of citizens wondered why they let private developers extract value out of their community. They knew they could set up renewable energy projects themselves and therefore set up a REScoop in their community. The REScoop started with a small project by PV installation on the roof of a local school. Soon after they installed PV on roofs in different villages in a neighbourhood.
The Combrailles Dubrailles REScoop demonstrates a successful model starting from a small group that could efficiently grow through the active involvement of members as stakeholders. In addition, they have well implemented the ideas from other REScoops throughout Europe into their projects.
Project Viure de l’Aire (Living the air of the sky) is the first community-owned wind project in Spain and promotes the installation of an Enercon E-103 EP2 wind turbine of 2,35 in the rural town of Pujalt (Anoia, Catalunya, Sapain), sharing the ownership among people who want it. The installation did not benefit from any subsidies or a feed-in premium.
The main objective of the project was to install a wind turbine of shared ownership, which can generate clean and green electricity, making possible the solidarity between people living in urban areas and those living in rural areas.
An additional objective was to enable people and/or families to demonstrate that the energy they use in their everyday life is green and clean, build in the location where the turbine will be installed.
Whalley Hydro is an energy co-operative based at Whalley (UK) that successfully developed a 100-kW micro hydro-electricity generating plant beside the River Calder. Considering the potential ecological impact on fish movements, flood patterns and noise, the co-operative went through an extensive environmental impact assessment procedure to ensure environmental harm was avoided. Rivers in the United Kingdom are protected by the Environment Agency. To build a hydro plant in a river one needs to comply with stringent and comprehensive environmental regulations. Whalley Hydro’s way of dealing with this regulation, using the expertise of the government agencies, makes this an example of best practice in the environmental integration of RES technology.
Zonnestad, a project put forward by the local energy cooperative EnerGent, is resolutely promoting more solar panels in Ghent (Belgium) and its surrounding area. The cooperative offers independent advice to homeowners, tenants and local businesses and successfully developed a map indicating how well buildings in the city are oriented for solar energy production. The cooperative also organises citizens through a group purchasing scheme. The panels bought in bulk are selected and assessed by the cooperative to be socio-environmentally responsible panels, and purchased at a competitive, predetermined prices. The Gent Zonnestad project resulted in 549 installations.
This represented in total a production of 8 MWh peak.
Thermo Bello is a district heating cooperative owned by residents of a district in Culemborg, Netherlands. The cooperative is running a district heating system that heats the water with a geothermal heat pump on the drinking water reservoir. In addition to the energy supply, the residents are also closely involved in the development and layout of the district, the landscape and maintenance of public green spaces, traffic safety, water management and the production of local food.
In the city of Halle in Belgium, the cooperative PajoPower replaced 445 traditional public street lights by LED. The investment worth EUR 225.000 was financed by the cooperative and helps the city to save both energy and money. This is a typical example of third-party financing through a collective ESCO model. Citizens were kindly invited to adopt the public streetlight in front of their doors buy purchasing a collective share and replacing the street light by LED.
Through Dr Watt, Enercoop from France is training its members to become energy experts and save energy within their communities. This “cocktail of solution” includes an in-person training course, an online platform and a peer-to-peer learning group. The members signing up for this training program are offered three training days to learn how to measure, assess and understand the energy consumption in their homes. The cooperative is providing the trainee with wattmeters in order to realise measurements. This training is supported by an online platform where members can track their consumption and progress. The group is then organised in peer-to-peer learning groups called “tupperwatt groups” which allow people to physically meet and exchange ideas on how they can save energy at home and in their communities. Dr Watt allowed members of Enercoop to save up to 13% of their energy consumption.
Carbon Co-op in the UK is an energy services and advocacy cooperative that helps people and communities to make the radical reductions in home carbon emissions necessary to avoid runaway climate change. The cooperative recently introduced the Carbon Co-op Hub, a platform allowing people to keep track of their energy consumption at home.
Brixton Energy (London, UK) trains young people within a socially vulnerable neighbourhood and turns them into energy experts. After being trained for several weeks, the youngster can give high quality energy advice, or develop RES projects. The cooperative then takes additional steps to support the communities in social housing building to create a cooperative, and carry out a photovoltaic production project. The young energy experts are then participating in the construction of the installation.
Through Wijkwerf the cooperative EnerGent wants to encourage and help citizens in the city of Ghent (Belgium) to make their homes more energy efficient. The scheme is set-up as a joint purchase, but with high quality standards and tailored guidance for energy retrofits. Less costs and less worries. A similar model is set-up by Lochem Energie in the Netherlands.
Energia Positiva is a citizen’s energy cooperative from Italy taking joint ownership of renewable energy projects. Members get access to the clean energy and can use it to cover their own needs. In that sense, it operates like a “virtual power plant”.
It is a concrete initiative that aims to offer citizens the possibility of producing and using energy from renewable sources only, helping them to reduce the costs of their bills and improve the environment.