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A note on energy consumers’ co-ops in Europe 21 November 2009

Posted by cooperatoby in cooperative, EU.
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The co-operative energy sector is developing fast but very disjointedly in Europe. There are several different angles. Some countries are at the level of exhorting citizens to buy green, some have co-ops brokering electriticity from renewable sources, some have co-ops that generate power themselves, and others that hold shares colectively in large utilities.

They are big in the USA of course.

In Europe, an initiative has been taken to create a federation, and an event was held at the European Parliament on 30 April 09, at which co-ops presented good practice examples. Among others Bob Burlton and Ray Collins from the UK were involved.
http://www.coopseurope.coop/spip.php?article701&var_recherche=energy
Also Co-operatives Europe ACT! Co-ops addressing climate change:
http://www.actonclimate.coop/home.aspx

UK

Baywind’s spring 2016 newsletter reports £10m raised in 2015 and now 20 community-funded wind and solar plants in membership. Even though tax reliefs have been slashed there’s a steady flow of new projects.

Belgium
http://www.enercoop.be/ – promotes renewables
http://www.emissions-zero.be/
Windmills are contentious: http://eoliennes-wallonie.energies-dyle.be/

France
www.enercoop.fr
founded as a reaction to state energy liberalisation and nuclear dominance in 2004 and incorporated as a SCIC in 2005. Admitted individuals from 2007. now has 4,500 customers, most of whom are also shareholding members.

Spain
www.enercoop.es
Cooperativa Eléctrica San Francisco de Asís, trading as Grupo Enercoop, is based in Crevillent near Alicante. It was founded in 1925 by textile industrialists and individuals, who wanted cheaper power than the big companies were providing. It is now one of Spain’s biggest energy co-ops. It has solar and photovoltaic generation.
The Comunidad Valenciana has 16 electricity co-ops that undecut private companies by 5-75 and serve 43,000 families and businesses. They have a facebook support page at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=60514432693&v=info#/group.php?v=info&gid=60514432693

Netherlands
www.windvogel.nl

Built its first mill in 1991 and now has a 2MW windmill at Oudekerk, plus a 600 kW and 2 x 80 kW. it has a share capital of €50 per member, and members’ money in excess of that is in the form of loans. They are currently (2008-9) piloting a ‘self-delivery’ model whereby members use power generated in their own mills, which is free of VAT and energy tax. Utility Eneco does the billing and deducts self-supplied power from their normal bill.
On the planning issue they point out that 1000 years ago Holland had 10,000 windmills, yet today a mere 2,000 will supply the entire population.

Germany
http://www.energie-in-buergerhand.de/

Meanwhile in October 2009 in Freiburg, Germany, they have started a co-op to by a large chunk of an energy company. They are taking advantage of the forced divestment by E.ON-Ruhrgas of its subsidiary Thüga to a consortium of 50 local authorities. The co-operative (EiB) aims to buy €100 million worth of Thuga shares so as to have a real influence. By the end of October over 4,000 investors had contributed €21.5 m.

Denmark
http://www.dkvind.dk/eng/faq/cooperatives.pdf

The first windmill co-op started near Aarhus in 1980 and was the fit of many, but latterly large companies have taken the lead. Today about 155 of turbines are co-ops. However legislation from January 2009 obliges them to give at last 20% ownership to local people, i.e. co-ops. (i.e. as with Kilbraur in Scotland).

Update October 2016

How things have changed! Much good news in the ”Cooperative News” report on Community Energy Fortnight 2016.

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