Innovative renewable energy cooperatives are leading the energy transition to energy democracy
A renewable energy cooperative, or REScoop, is a business model in which citizens jointly own and participate in renewable energy or energy efficiency projects. REScoops are also known as community power or community energy initiatives. The European federation of renewable energy cooperatives is REScoop.eu. It’s a growing network of 1,250 European energy cooperatives and one million citizens who are active in the energy transition.
REScoops generate sustainable energy from local sources thanks to the participation of local citizens. For example, a citizen can become a co-owner of a nearby wind turbine, hydropower installation or solar panels, and no longer needs to depend on a big utility company or worry about rising energy prices.
REScoops typically respect seven principles that have been duly outlined by the International Cooperative Alliance:
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Economic Participation through Direct Ownership
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Cooperation among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
Citizens can also actively participate in the cooperative, helping to decide in what and where the REScoop can invest, and in setting the energy price.
To expand the European REScoop movement, REScoop.eu has produced a number of tools that provide conceptual frameworks to help start a community power initiative. They include European best practices, and advice on the optimum business model. REScoop.eu also helps starters find out how to engage and manage stakeholders, and how to finance renewable energy projects.
RESCoop has produced this short video on renewable energy cooperatives: