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The Alb-Elektrizitätswerk Geislingen-Steige eG has a history of more than 100 years. As an energy supplier, the cooperative is operating the local grid and maintains a close coordination with the respective communities and local authorities at the same time. In addition to supplying electricity, operating networks, and selling electricity, the cooperative is active as an electrical and communications technology service provider, while also retailing electrical equipment. The example shows how energy supply can be operated by one local actor successfully over many years, boosting regional value creation, social acceptance and independence from third parties.
electrical and communication technology (via service provision and physical shops)
Since 2010 the Bürger-Energie-Genossenschaft-58 (BEG-58) has been writing a success story with the construction and operation of solar power systems (photovoltaic systems) on regional roofs. The cooperative maintains a close network with regional actors and prioritizes local business partners, even cooperating with a local energy supplier to commercialize its energy. Another interesting fact is that the cooperative offers bulk orders for balcony PV-modules. The example shows how a self-sufficient energy supply can be achieved with solar power, boosting regional value creation and social acceptance, while being independent from third parties at the same time.
Before the Bürgerenergiegenossenschaft BENG eG was officially founded as cooperative in 2011, most of the initial members had already participated in the German energy transition beforehand, e.g. by collaborating with local organizations and authorities. From the first moment on, the focus of the cooperative has been PV and solar power generation. With the new EEG coming into effect in 2017, the cooperative has been exploring the option of tenant models for housing projects within municipalities. To streamline the commercialization of the produced electricity, the cooperative participates in bavariastrom (The Landesnetzwerk Bürgerenergie Bayern e.V. (BEBay), in cooperation with GRÜNSTROMWERK, offers bavariastrom throughout Bavaria, which is completely produced by eco-power plants in Bavaria). The example shows how a self-sufficient energy supply can be achieved with solar power, highlighting that citizen participation in the energy sector can be achieved independently from private property.
In 2011, the municipality Unterhaching (close to Munich) organized a workshop for citizens interested in energy self-sufficiency and climate protection. As a result, present citizens agreed to form the energy cooperative Bürgerenergie Unterhaching eG as an appropriate mean to achieve the common goals. Since then, the cooperative has been mainly involved in PV-projects, focusing its efforts on the municipality of Unterhaching. By maintaining a strong relationship with local authorities, the cooperative hopes to design a vast PV-infrastructure, focusing on roof projects, tenant models and open space solutions. The example shows how a self-sufficient energy supply can be achieved with solar power. The energy cooperative Bürgerenergie Unterhaching eG is a good example on how even little efforts, such as the right nudges from local authorities, can go a long way.
In December 2013, 9 energy cooperatives joined forces to found the Bürgerwerke eG in Heidelberg with the goal of jointly selling green electricity. One of the goals of the Bürgerwerke is that energy cooperatives can commercialize locally generated electricity and green gas in their respective region by referring to one product and distributing incurring costs among many participants. Today, the cooperative is an umbrella organization for more than 90 energy cooperatives, enabling small and bigger energy cooperatives to offer electricity and gas products. The example shows how energy cooperatives can work together in order to become more competitive. It also showcases how energy powered by citizens can be commercialized in an attractive way.
The history of citizen participation in Saerbeck dates back to 2008, when the municipality, after very positive experiences with results of a citizens driven initiative to install photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roofs of municipal buildings, adopted a solution to switch the energy supply of the whole municipality to renewable energy sources. The energy cooperative Energie für Saerbeck eG was initiated only one year later, with the local cooperative bank leading the way. In years to come, Saerbeck achieved the successful association of and cooperation between the municipality of Saerbeck and multiple societal stakeholders (citizens, associations, the planning office, local government, businesses and farmers). In 2011 the municipality of Saerbeck took over the approx. 90 hectare site of the former ammunition main depot in the area and developed the RE-park (BEP Saerbeck), generating enough electricity for 19,000 households today.The example shows how different actors within the same municipality can work together in order to achieve a self-sufficient energy supply. It also showcases how energy education can be designed around practical installations for solar, wind and biogas.
The energy cooperative Fünfseenland eG emerged in 2011 from the local Agenda 21 (A local Agenda 21 is a municipality’s long-term action program for future-proof local development) and the association for energy transition of the municipality of Starnberg. Today, even though the cooperative maintains its firm focus on solar power it also succesfully diversified its energy portfolio by implementing projects related to district heating networks and wind power. Next to its vast portfolio of electricity products the Fünfseenland eG also supplies the region with natural gas (wholesale activity).. The example shows how small efforts can slowly but surely become relevant for the region, diversifying from solar power to district heating and contracting models. The energy cooperative Fünfseenland eG also supports a strong relationship with education facilities, trying to contribute to more acceptance and awareness for renewable energies.
The energy cooperative Haltern am See eG was founded in 2009 as a way for citizens of the region to actively participate in the energy market. Under the roof of the cooperative, key actors like local authorities, grid operators and financial institutions are joining forces with the citizens in an effort to strengthen the cooperative. Next to operating three PV-plants the cooperative also participates in wind power projects and collaborates with the municipality by financing the local biogas-plant. The example shows how different actors within the same municipality can work together in order to achieve a self-sufficient energy supply. It shows how cooperatives can strengthen the regional value creation and highlights the positive repercussions for regional development matters.
The Heidelberger Energiegenossenschaft eG was created out of a student initiative, aiming to effectively counter the climate crisis by offering energy solutions based on PV systems. While mainly focusing on energy production from PV plants on municipality roofs (it started with an installation – you guessed right – on the university roof), the cooperative nowadays also maintains participations in different sectors, especially wind and energy development projects abroad. The cooperative also wants to explore more options in terms of e-mobility. The example offers an interesting case on how the young(er) generation(s) are able to participate in the energy sector, by actively involving all kinds of local stakeholders. They can also show how to deal with administration (controlling etc.) and member services.
Founded as a collaboration between the catholic and the evangelic parishes of the municipality, the Ökumenische Energiegenossenschaft eG is dedicated to invest in regional energy production from RES. The energy production is centered around PV projects, mostly on roofs of common buildings within the municipality. Together with the international cooperative OIKOCREDIT they participate in international development projects by providing financial services to people who live in poverty. The example offers an interesting case on how the dedication to climate protection brings together the catholic and the protestant church in one organisation.
The Energiegenossenschaft Odenwald eG was created in 2009 out of cooperation between local actors, including the municipality and the local cooperative bank. The idea is to offer financial solutions for a self-sufficient regional energy supply powered by citizens. The cooperative started with a focus on solar power but quickly diversified to wind power and district heating options for local citizens, as well as maintaining a small station for e-cars. It commercializes electricity and natural gas products. The example offers an interesting case on how a cooperation between the citizens, the local bank, local businesses and the community can ideally look like. It also shows how energy cooperative positively affect the value creation within a specific region.
The Bürger-Energie-Rhein-Main eG originated from an initial workshop within the municipality. Three months later, the cooperative was officially registered, with 27 signing members including the local mayor of Mörfelden-Walldorf. Having started with a strong focus on gathering electricity from solar power, the BürgerEnergieRheinMain eG has since expanded to combined heat, power plants (CHP) and local district heating. Next to commercializing electricity, the cooperative also offers Biogas through the Buergerwerke eG and participates in a public project related to e-mobility. The example offers an interesting case on how a cooperative can run “typical” community energy PV plants based on the feed-in tariff system. They also provide some innovative services like e-carsharing and contracting (energy efficiency projects with the community) solutions.
The Ruhr Region is a hotspot of the coal and steel industry and is currently going through a structural transition. The Solargenossenschaft Essen eG is offering a green alternative for local citizens, focusing on a feed-in business model for solar power since its creation in 2009. It also currently develops business models for e-carsharing and energy efficiency by offering contracting solutions. The example offers an interesting case on how a whole region that used to be heavily involved in fossil energy can slowly but surely contribute to RES. Some members used to work for mining companies, making the story even more authentic.
The energy cooperative Starkenburg eG was created in 2010 and has seen an impressive growth since then. Today, the cooperative is open to projects from all forms of RES, with a strong hold on wind and solar power projects. Other focal points are the operation of a biogas plant in a neighbouring municipality and new projects related to energy efficiency and energy saving. Other noteworthy areas include activities in the field of water power, e-mobility and energy development. The example offers an interesting case on how citizen energy raises acceptance within a region / municipality through ownership. By operating the biogas plant, the cooperative took over the role of a key supplier, highlighting its importance for the region and for agricultural farmers in particular.
In 2008 the WeilerWärme eG in Pfalzgrafenweiler in Baden-Württemberg was founded out of an environmental group of the Evangelical Church. Initially, the focus was on building a local heating network to use heat from a biomass wood-fired CHP. In the meantime, WeilerWärme also operates photovoltaic systems, supplies green electricity and has set up an electric car sharing system. Together with the municipality, it provides state of the art technology for the region it operates in by promoting regional development of other industries at the same time. The example offers an interesting case on how citizens and local authorities can work together to supply households within a municipality with heat. The energy cooperative WeilerWärme eG also provides good solutions on how to expand into different sectors, especially e-mobility, by mainly relying on local actors, thus boosting the regional value creation.
The Spanish renewable energies cooperative Som Energia was officially founded in 2010 by a group from the local university, making it the first energy cooperative of its kind in Spain. In order to provide their clients with electricity, the cooperative maintains a diversified portfolio in terms of RES, focusing solar power. However, it is worth mentioning that installations are geographically dispersed and are therefore often at a significant distance from the point of consumption. Som Energia is committed to social activities that foster the participation by citizens, e.g. by organizing local task forces for specific regions. The example shows how energy supply can be operated by one local actor successfully over many years, boosting the production and consumption of renewable energies.
Around 114 thousand clients and 65 thousand cooperative member
energy production from PV
energy production from wind energy
energy production from other sources (biogas, hydro)
delivery of electricity
The French renewable energies cooperative Enercoop was created in 2005 and still is the only electric utility organization in the form of a cooperative in France today. Members include Greenpeace, WWF and cooperative institutions like the cooperative bank laNef and the consumption coopreative Biocoop. Its aim is to create many regional cooperatives around France where the local members can be in charge of all parts of the energy process from production to consumption. Its main RES is hydropower with a portfolio share of 86%, with the rest being distributed among wind, solar and biomass. In order to supply its clients with the required energy, Enercoop purchases the necessary quantity through its vast network of private individuals, SME and local groups.The example shows how cooperation between different stakeholders can be strong enough to challenge unfavorable conditions. It also serves as an illustrative case to demonstrate how one central actor can implement and maintain a country-wide network of subsidiaries.
Around 80,000 clients, half of which are member of the cooperative
delivery of electricity
energy production via different operators: private individuals, SME, local groups (245 different entities in total)
energy sources are: hydro, wind, biomass, solar
The Belgium renewable energies cooperative Ecopower was founded in 1991 with the idea to finance renewable energy projects in Belgium. Nowadays, the cooperative offers its members and clients a mean to invest in green energy production installations such as wind turbines and solar PV, reinvesting all surplus in new renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. While doing so, Ecopower also engages in direct partnerships with local municipalities to support economic and social value creation within the region, e.g. by supporting the concepting and execution of their respective Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP). The example shows how cooperation between different stakeholders can be achieved if everyone works towards a common goal. Ecopower maintains a vast network of not only Belgium and European actors alike and is often cited as a primary example of how citizen participation in energy markets can be achieved.