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On our way to the next one! –

The success of community solar energy projects in Spain

Before the summer break in 2013, Amigos de la Tierra (Friends of the Earth Spain) and Ecooo launched a joint venture under the name of “Huerta Solar Amigos de la Tierra”, a community solar energy project that would allow anyone to buy into the project and become co-owner of a clean energy production. After completing the first one, Amigos de la Tierra is about to complete the second one. This means that few dozens more concerned citizens in Spain are now helping to expel dirty kWh from the system - and at the same time hitting a 5.5% guaranteed return during the upcoming years.

We spoke to Hector de Prado, energy campaigner for this environmental organisation, so he could explain us further details about this initiative: “We wanted a partner with both capital and social principles in order to trigger a joint action. In essence, this partner would buy dumped solar gardens to individuals or small companies, and we would promote the participation of consumers concerned about energy issues around the country. This was the actual seed for the “Solar Gardens” - and our collaboration with Ecooo S.L., an unique enterprise that is not just benefit-oriented, but also social.”

Some of the bigger national electricity cooperatives, such as Som Energia coop, nowadays replicate this model, which at the time, three years ago was somewhat bold. “Basically Ecooo identified a solar garden available in Sisante, Cuenca, and we both sit and designed the campaign, having in mind that our target would be not only Amigos de la Tierra members, but also anyone concerned about the impacts related to fossil fuel combustion.”

In June 2013, Amigos de la Tierra proudly released the “Huerta Solar Amigos de la Tierra”, in which any person with a capital of 100€ (or more) could invest in a renewable energy project with a 5.5% revenue “We call it ‘la cosecha’ (the harvest), and surely is the time of the year when our co-participants are the happiest. Normally, since they see no hidden trick in here, they spread the voice and new friends and relatives join our initiative.”

This mouth to mouth strategy led them to start a second one nearby Madrid. But why this need of re-activating dumped installations instead of building up new ones? According to Mr. de Prado “It is important to flag out that these days, and regarding the insidious Royal Decree promoted by the latest Government, it impossible -almost a suicidal- to install a new solar garden from scratch. This is the main reason for us to focus on “bringing back to life” existing installations, and we will keep doing this until we achieve a more favourable legal framework in which people and environment are in the centre.”

Despite the political lock-in, Friends of the Earth remain calm and optimist as they now that “the future will be renewable and in the hands of the people, or it won’t be”.

About the Project:

Huerta Solar Amigos de la Tierra I (Sisante, Cuenca):

20kW capacity installed / Annual Energy production: 33.070 kWh/year

102 participants, total investment 80.000€

From AdT: 76 participants, investment 20.000€ + from Ecooo: 26 participants, investment 61.000€

Huerta Solar Amigos de la Tierra II (Leganés, Madrid):

10kW capacity installed / Annual Energy production: 14.872 kWh/year

28 participants, total investment 63.377€

More infos in https://huertasolaramigosdelatierra.wordpress.com/



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