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CO-POWER Success Stories


CO-POWER creates 8 new national and EU level coalitions

Throughout the project eight strong public community power coalitions were built up, seven in national contexts (Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Poland, Scotland, Hungary and in the Czech Republic) and one at the European level.

Throughout the project eight strong public community power coalitions were built up, seven in national contexts (in Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Poland, Scotland, Hungary and the Czech Republic) and one at the European level.

Overall the project brought together 458 diverse stakeholders across Europe, including Civil Society organisations, RES developers, grid operators, energy cooperatives, RES agencies and cities networks.

The work of these coalitions built the capacity of decision makers at the EU and national levels about an enabling environment for community power. The European coalition was convened by Friends of the Earth Europe and many consortium partners were active members in the coalition. The coalition allowed all the members to play to their strengths to achieve change in their legislative environment. The European coalition meetings were open by phone to those working in the national contexts. It allowed the European coalition members to share expertise on specific national scenarios.

The other way around, this communication enabled the national coalitions to keep abreast of relevant EU developments such the Energy Union and public consultations. Coalitions working on community power did not exist in any of these countries or at EU level at the start of the project, which managed to get a critical mass of organisations across Europe to successfully work towards enabling legislative environments.

This resulted in a number of positive outcomes such as:

  • A joint statement of 12 organisations at EU level during the 2015 EU sustainable energy week outlining the views of the coalition on the Energy Union published earlier that year.
  • In Spain, the coalition submitted formal complaints in Brussels about retroactive changes of the RES support systems and exerted joint pressure to prevent legislation from worsening at national level.
  • In Ireland coalition members collaborated on events, including the 2015 and 2016 Community and Renewable Energy Scheme conference, an ICLEI conference aimed at local authorities in Edinburgh, as well as input from individual members into CO-POWER events in other countries.




Community energy injected into policy at the European Level

The community power project successfully changed the legislative environment for community ownership at the EU level.

Capacity among European decision makers on community energy was markedly low before the project started and community energy was not mentioned in legislation or policy. Through capacity building and events, key European decision makers were empowered to put forward proposals on community energy.

The main legislative successes were:

All of the papers explicitly promote consumer ownership of energy and “active participation” of citizens in energy markets. As such these reports and communications form part of an enabling legislative framework for community energy projects. There will also be a chapter on community energy in the upcoming Renewable Energy Directive (still in the pipeline, with a draft coming out after the end of this project) thanks to the work of the project.

This success at the European level was achieved by the project’s members working closely as a team (particularly Friends of the Earth Europe, ClientEarth, ICLEI and Bankwatch) and sharing advocacy meetings and intelligence. The European-wide European Community Energy coalition that was set up as part of the project was also essential to achieving this success.





Community energy co-operatives now eligible to access EU regional development funding

Bankwatch achieved important successes in promoting the eligibly of community energy projects in the EU‘s regional development funding.

Cooperatives and relevant small energy enterprises are now eligible to access funding in energy-related or regional operational programmes in all target countries (Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia). This was done through coordinated advocacy campaigns both at national and regional levels, focused on authorities preparing the new operational programmes.

Particular success can be seen in Poland in where three regional spending plans explicitly prioritise a community-led energy transition. For example, the spending plan for the Podlaskie region says “In order to encourage the local communities to implement innovative solutions using RES, priority funding will be given to projects proposed by local communities, municipalities and their partnerships.”

In one Slovakian operational programme the integrated approach for community power financing led to an allocation of €100 million for “creating local producer-consumer chains, networking of SMEs with focus on local economy and community development.” The community power project continues to work with seven new projects throughout the target countries which may be eligible to apply for these funds in 2016.




Largest urban aolar co-operative in the UK set up in Scotland through community power project

Friends of the Earth Scotland developed the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative, which will integrate solar photovoltaic cells on 25 buildings, including schools and leisure centres, owned by Edinburgh City Council.

The estimated generating capacity of the project is 1.5MW, making it the largest urban solar co-operative in the UK. The project will also save a predicted 1,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year over its 20 year lifetime.

The scheme provides an important opportunity for people in an urban area to take an active role in and benefit from the renewable energy transition.

According to Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon, “The Edinburgh scheme is a winner all round because it will reduce climate emissions and provide cheap energy for schools and other Council buildings. Local people will also get a decent return on any money they choose to invest.”

A total of 541 members have raised £1.4 million (€1.8 million) for the project, which will be operational in September 2016. In addition, the project is expected to generate over £1 million for a community benefit fund.

For the first five years, money from the fund will be made available for buildings that are part of the scheme. After that it will be allocated for a common fund that aims to make finance available for energy efficiency measures that help alleviate fuel poverty in the city, ensuring an equitable and local distribution of benefits.

The project relies on a partnership between the co-operative and the Edinburgh City Council. As in the other countries’ projects, ICLEI played a crucial role in facilitating the relationship with the local authorities.

And this case wasn’t a one-off: new projects were also set up in Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, totalling 11.23MW of installed renewable energy capacity by the end of the project.




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