Ecopower cvba is a Belgian renewable energy sources cooperative (REScoop) with 48,000 members. The cooperative issues shares and invests in renewable energy production installations such as wind turbines and solar PV. All citizens are eligible to join the cooperative: after purchasing a share they become a coowner of the installations and thus share in the profits. Members are also given the opportunity to buy green electricity from local sources at a fair price. Ecopower now reaches out for local municipalities that have signed the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) but face difficulties in writing their Sustainable Energy ActionPlans (SEAP). Moreover, Ecopower uses the revenues of wind projects in Eeklo, Asse and Beersel to pay the monthly wage of a (part-time) SEAP expert who works on behalf of the local municipality to initiate RES and EE projects at the local level.
How do REScoops collaborate with local municipalities on EE?
REScoop is short for renewable energy cooperative and refers to a business model where citizens jointly own and participate in renewable energy or energy efficiency projects. We also refer to REScoops as community power or community energy initiatives. REScoops and local municipalities typically serve the same stakeholder: citizens. REScoops do not necessarily have the legal statute of a cooperative, but rather distinguish themselves by the way they do business. They typically respect 7 principles that have been duly outlined by the International Cooperative Alliance:
All citizens are eligible to join a REScoop. After purchasing a cooperative share and becoming a member or co-owner of local RES and EE projects, members share in the profits and often are given the opportunity to buy the electricity at a fair price. In addition, Members can actively participate in the cooperative: they can decide in what and where the REScoop should invest, and are consulted when setting the energy price.
REScoops are leading the energy transition to energy democracy, and make it possible for citizens to actively participate in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The REScoop model has many advantages for both the climate, citizens and local authorities:
REScoops foster social acceptance for renewable energy
Local opposition to renewable energy projects (typically wind turbines) decreases when citizens are given the opportunity to invest in and co-own the production installations in their neighbourhood. This is especially true when local citizens are involved from the very start of the project. Stakeholder involvement and direct citizen participation foster social acceptance for renewable energy. Local citizens do not only share in the profits, they also have access to clean energy at a fair price.
REScoops keep the individual investment affordable
Not everyone has a roof suitable for solar panels, nor does everyone have the financial capacity to make such a considerable investment. REScoop production installations are typically owned by a large group of citizens, keeping the individual investment affordable.
REScoops benefit the local community
REScoops have a clear concern for the community. They usually share part of the profits with their members and use the rest to develop new projects or benefit the local community as a whole.Some REScoops for example have financed the construction of a local sustainable concert hall, while others constructed a charging point for electric bicycles. Thus, all citizens benefit from the projects and the profits that they generate.
REScoops keep money in the local economy
REScoops use local energy sources and include local citizens. Thus they keep money within the local community that would otherwise be lost. In addition, REScoops stimulate local employment and boost the local economy. REScoops take action on energy efficiency. The revenues that result from renewable energy projects are often used to finance energy efficiency measures in public buildings. Some REScoops have paid for insulation material for public buildings, while others have constructed a sustainable concert hall.
How does Ecopower collaborate with local municipalities on EE?
Ecopower was founded back in 1992 as a Belgian cooperative with three main objectives.
Ecopower is now reaching out for local municipalities in Flanders (Belgium). Many local authorities have signed the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) and are currently writing their Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAP). However, lack of expertise, time and resources often make it hard for them to initiate real RES or EE projects in their local communities. Ecopower therefor offers help to keep the energy transition in the hands of the local citizens. In Eeklo, Asse and Beersel – three municipalities in the Flemish region – this approach resulted in successful collaborations with the municipality. Ecopower insisted on bringing a wide range of stakeholders (e.g., citizens, environmental organisations, advisory committees, the local municipality council, etc.) to the table to design the local SEAP. Cooperative wind turbines that allow direct participation by local citizens have been included therein. All citizens are eligible to join Ecopower by means of purchasing one or more cooperative shares. This way they co-own the projects and share in the profits. Ecopower also uses part of the revenues to pay the wages of a (part-time) SEAP expert. He or she works on behalf of the local municipality to initiate other RES projects or EE measures in public buildings and private houses.
Ecopower - www.ecopower.be
REScoop.eu - www.rescoop.eu
REScoop.Vlaanderen - www.rescoopv.be
Municipality of Asse – www.asse.be
Municipality of Eeklo – www.eeklo.be
Municipality of Beersel – www.beersel.be
Multiple societal stakeholders: citizens, local authorities, Ecopower, landowners
The programme delivery unit is Ecopower cvba. The cooperative issues shares and allows local citizens toparticipate in the RES projects. They share in the profits and can use clean energy from local sources intheir private houses. The revenues of the RES projects are then used to pay the wage of a (part-time)energy expert who works on behalf of the local municipality to initiate other RES projects or EE measuresin public buildings.
Eeklo (Flanders, Belgium)
Asse (Flanders, Belgium)
Beersel (Flanders, Belgium)
Posthoflei 3 bus 3