Renewable Energy Cooperative Partnerships

What is a RENCOP ?

Renewable Energy Co-operative Partnerships, in short RENCOP’s, are partnerships that can include citizens, authorities, businesses, and academia. The basic functional set-up is comprised of communities, coordinators, and experts. Every RENCOP is different, but they all have an overarching goal to implement renewable energy projects that one person or group alone could not manage. Maybe you know of an example in your home country as well. The partners of Co2mmunity are establishing RENCOP’s across the Baltic Sea Region to learn from each other about the opportunities and pitfalls of co-operative renewable energy project development.

Involving CE Stakeholders in each Partner Region

Working cooperatively among diverse stakeholders, as for example in a RENCOP can be a challenging endeavour. As part of our project we have developed different tools for getting an overview of stakeholders and managing a RENCOP. The aim is to support the development of more local and regional RENCOPs.

Current Status of Development

The RENCOP’s are all at different stages of development and this site will be updated as our approach develops. Below you can find a list providing more detail and  an interactive map listing the roject partners in each country.

When you ask a Danish person “What is a RENCOP?” they might say: fællesskaber med fokus på vedvarende energi. As we do not all speak Danish, we have provided additional information on the Danish Co2mmunity RENCOPs below.

RENCOP – Common Purchase of Heat Pumps

To promote the transition to neutral heating in private homes, Middelfart Municipality is running a campaign to inform citizens on the possibility to collectively purchase heat pumps. By purchasing as a group citizens can reduce their individual investment costs towards the heat pumps.

During these campaigns Middelfart Municipality offers support and advice to  the approximate 250 attending citizens. One example is the Municipality being able to help in finding different suppliers and ensuring that the whole process goes forward. In the end, the citizens of course still have to and get to decide for themselves on which offer they want to take.

RENCOP – Common Purchase of Heat Pumps 2.0

In the last week of October 2018, the second round for the common purchase of heat pumps began. The first meeting was held in Brenderup, a village in Middelfart Municipality and three more meetings will be held in Fredericia, Kolding, and Vejen municipalities. Some of these municipalities are associated partners in Co2mmunity, and the collaboration is a witness of spreading and sharing experiences with CE projects.

A meeting was planned in Fredericia on the 20th of November, where citizens interested in a common purchase of heat pumps could attend to not only gain further information on the topic, but also sign up for the common purchase.

Another Common Purchase of Heat Pumps is planned for spring 2019.

RENCOP Green City – Brenderup

The citizens of the village Brenderup decided that they want to support the green transition. Currently Middelfart Municipality and some citizens from Brenderup are working on mapping the possibilities to make Brenderup a Green City. The first goal is already clear: To become self-sufficient with CO2 neutral electricity by using photovoltaics.

The citizens of Brenderup have been working on realizing a large solar park with the goal to supply the city with green electricity. In order to be included in a tender for financial support, the citizens of Brenderup had to submit the project idea for the solar park to the independent, public company called Energinet that operates the Danish transmission grid. The project idea proposal was submitted on the 1st of November 2018.

The tender decision was made on the 9th of November 2018, granting Brenderup with financial support of 10 øre/kW over 20 years.

The solar park is planned to cover an area of 20.000 km2 and approximately 1/3 of the electricity consumption in Brenderup.

RENCOP – Termonet

By combining existing technology in a new way we can increase the district heating coverage in Denmark from 64% to nearly 100%. This is done by fusing collective organizations known from district heating companies with individual geothermal heat pumps. With the great advantage of using low-pressure and low-temperature grids, this is done with help from a supply network based on heat absorbing vertical and horizontal plastic tubes. We call this network Termonet which can be used for both heating and cooling. This is an “Expert” RENCOP including the energy companies TREFOR and EWII production.

On Monday the 19th of November 2018, a meeting between TREFOR and Middelfart Municipality was held in order to discuss the different possible ownership models of Termonet.

Furthermore, something called “Club Termonet” was set in motion, with its purpose to assemble stakeholders and other interested parties and to spread and develop the idea of Termonet.

Føns – The First Movers

Føns Local Heating Plant is Denmark’s smallest district heating plant. It has been operating since October 1st 2015 and supplies 46 households with around 400 kW heat, saving 280 tons of CO2.

In 2012, long before CO2mmunity, Føns started the process of finding a heating supply solution for the village. This resulted in a small district heating plant powered by wood chips. During the process of finding a common heating supply for the village, many challenges appeared, but in the end, Føns got their district heating plant.

The project got its inspiration from the city of Samsø, which has a small district heating plant. Føns was able to secure the necessary number of connected users by charging a small connection fee.

After successfully implementing a small district heating plant, Føns is still not finished. The small village is working on becoming even greener as they are working on new and inventive ideas.

Indslev – Large Scale Heat Pump

Indslev is one of four cities, chosen as case cities for the ATES project. The aim of ATES is to analyze the technical and economic possibilities of a low temperature distribution system for common supply of individual heat pumps.

 

 

The Tartu Regional Energy Agency organises RENCOP activities in Estonia. The target groups are rural communities and apartment resident associations. The first RENCOP meeting was held in May 2018. The workshop spread ideas and benefits of CE projects. Furthermore, knowledge on CE and cooperatives in general was shared. The aim was to initiate new projects, provide expert knowledge and help to build a network among practitioners.

The knowledge shared included benefits of CE, activities for realising a CE project, lessons learned from the Estonian Energy Cooperatives Mentoring Programme and a crowd funding model. The second part was very concrete as leaders from existing cooperatives shared their experiences. The last part formed a discussion on CE obstacles and how to overcome such obstacles for project realization. The ERDF funded Estonian Energy Cooperatives Mentor Programme supports Estonian start-ups and their development through workshops, peer-to-peer learning, and mentorship programs. 

In December 2018, TREA engaged with the community of Mõisamaa. The citizens there wish to make their energy supply independent and sustainable. TREA is currently collecting and evaluating data to identify options for the community.

RENCOP in Finnish is: ‘uusiutuvan energian yhteisöhankkeita edistävät kumppanuus’. There are two RENCOPs developing in Finland, namely in South Ostrobothnia and around Helsinki.

Expert-driven RENCOP of South Ostrobothni

In South Ostrobothnia, an expert driven RENCOP has been formed in the beginning of 2018 to further the development of renewable energy projects in the area. An ambitious topic of micro-combined heat and power generation (CHP) with its new technological solutions was chosen in the hopes of making a real change and thus to accelerate the energy transition. In addition, the expert-driven RENCOP acts as a catalyst in forming renewable energy projects connected to one of the following: biomass, biogas, solar energy or geothermal energy. Discussions on renewable CE and biomass-based micro-CHP are continuing at the next RENCOP meeting in September 2018.

RENCOP Project: Advancing Solar Energy in Alavus

Inspired by the Alavus City Council initiative called “Sunny Alavus” (Aurinko-Alavus/2017), in which a certain political group expressed a will for Alavus city to become an exemplary city in the use of solar energy, Thermopolis Ltd. – Energy Agency of South Ostrobothnia teamed up with the Alavus Development Organization in the spring of 2018 to further this common goal. Interested citizens were invited to solar energy evenings which were held twice in the area. Also, awareness on renewable CE and solar energy was raised by participating at the local fair called “Companies at the Arena” and through an article in the local newspaper. At the solar energy evenings, the participants were also offered to take part in a common purchase of solar panels. A handful of house owners have remained interested in this offer, and awaitoffers from the solar panel providers Soon it will be up to the people themselves, which (if any) offer they want to accept. 

Helsinki RENCOP Development

In Helsinki, the RENCOP work is focused on stimulating solar electricity projects throughout apartment buildings. There is high interest across Finland by the housing companies established by the apartment owners (the condominiums), towards solar electricity in the apartment buildings. However, even with such a high interest, there is  still very few installations. There are nearly 90 000 housing companies across Finland and over 2.6 million people living in apartment buildings (about 50 % of the households).

In Helsinki, the RENCOP is an expert-driven group where solar energy experts, solutions providers, and other key stakeholders work towards identifying barriers and key mechanisms supporting the housing companies in acquiring solar electricity. The plan is to utilize the expert group’s support and encourage and support renewable energy projects in the Helsinki region.

The RENCOP coordinator is Green Net Finland. The group was established in the beginning of 2018, and the kick-off meeting was organized in January 2018. The works is currently focused on providing impartial and easily accessible information on solar electricity, identifying good examples and cases in Finland and internationally. Furthermore, the RENCOP is organizing information events and seminars to apartment owners about solar electricity by providing information on both technological and economical aspects.

A first example of such events was a breakfast on solar PV  for housing companies which took place in August. There Aalto University presented its results from a survey showing that Finnish citizens living in housing companies wish to make community energy happen. The event garnered national media attention.

RENCOP in German would sound something like this: Kooperative Partnerschaft für Erneuerbare Energien.

Energiebürger SH engages people to participate actively in the German Energy Transition. Switching to renewable energies and climate protection are global issues that many people are itching to deal with. Therefore not only a great leap but also many small steps need to be taken. So how is it possible to make a change locally? The education and project initiative energiebürger.sh is designed to help citizens and people engaged in communal politics who wish to contribute to the energy transition process within their municipality and region. For mor info also check out their flyer.

Energiebürger SH is currently engaged in the district of Rendsburg-Eckernförde to establish a RENCOP. Our goal with the RENCOP is to strengthen and empower citizens to take an active role in the energy transition. We identified the need of activating multipliers: On the one hand to commit municipalities, as the representatives of their citizen’s interests, to the Energy transition (incl. promoting renewable energies), and on the other hand to reach out to civil society organisations, and citizens, to motivate and inspire people in the region to be a part of the Energy transition by taking an active role in creating concrete Renewable Energy projects.

A political challenging issue is the halting expansion of wind energy. The state planning authorities in Schleswig-Holstein are currently in the process of drawing up new spatial plans to ensure an orderly development of wind power plants in the state. This is a participatory process. Therefore, to engage municipalities and citizens in the RENCOP area energiebürger.sh hosted a regional planning meeting regarding wind energy developments for the state of Schleswig-Holstein on the 4th December 2018. Approximately 40 people attended this meeting including citizens, lawyers, and ministry representatives for regional wind planning. The aim of the seminar was to inform municipalities and citizens on the status of public land use planning for wind energy (Presentation1), as well as the possibilities and procedures to give input into the spatial planning process (Presentation2).

A follow-up meeting will be taking place on the 14th of March, 2019. You can find the invitation here and in our download section. The focus in this seminar will be to inform municipalities and citizens about opportunities to strengthen local or regional value chains while promoting RE through citizens. More information can be found at www.energiebuerger.sh and in our download section.

Current Situation

Although the concept of district heating (DH) is widely known in Latvia and most DH companies are owned by local municipalities. Therefore, the community energy (CE) approach is not well-known and used in practice and there are just a few successful examples.

Co2mmunity Pilot Project in Marupe Municipality

The Riga Planning Region is working to establish a RENCOP in the Marupe Municipality. Main problems and myths regarding renewable energy projects in Latvia and in the Marupe Municipality are that people often believe that:

  • Renewable energy is expensive
  • Profits are insignificant as compared to the investment
  • There is a relatively small number of sunny days in Latvia, therefore the use of solar energy is expensive and unprofitable
  • Renewable energy projects should always be co-financed from the EU or other support instruments

Activities in the „GRAMANČIA“ Community Center

Co2mmunity works with a local community center to establish a rooftop PV system. The Gramančia Center of the Pagramantis community was registered in 2005. In 2017 the idea of establishing of community house arose and was then followed by implementation. A part of a building was renovated for the purpose to the community’s activities and the living of its elderly members, for providing healthcare, nursing services and giving opportunities for active communication.

Therewith Co2mmunity aims to unite the Pagramantis population and strengthen community spirit. Furthermore, Co2mmunity cares for the community’s well-being by protecting their rights, to maintain and develop infrastructure and projects, and to develop cultural and sporting life in the village. Lastly, Co2mmunity gives suggestions to local and regional authorities.

For our Polish visitors an explanation of RENCOP in Polish ‘otwarta grupa robocza integrująca ekspertów, przedstawicieli klastrów energii oraz wszystkich zainteresowanych przyspieszeniem rozwoju energetyki obywatelskiej w Polsce w formule klastrów energii.’

At the beginning of September 2018, the RENCOP kick-off meeting took place in Warsaw. It was opportunity to hear inspiriting stories of energy clusters and join discussion with experts on future of the community energy market in Poland. The following meetings will be divided into various topics such as: legislation, financing, public acceptance, presence in the power system and more. Updates on recent activities and upcoming events can also be found on the FNEZ webpage.

If you would like to be a member of this RENCOP group and support an energy transition focussing on local energy potentials – do not hesitate to join us. Please contact: mk@fnez.pl

The Energy Agency for Southeast Sweden is mostly working in the counties of Blekinge, Kalmar, and Kronoberg. Their strategy is to provide expert inputs from companies and experienced communities to housing cooperatives. The advantage is that the housing cooperatives are existing community structures. As approximately one fifth of Swedes lives in a housing cooperative. 

The RENCOP is active since 2017 and several meetings and workshops were held. In these workshops:

  • Up to 200 interested citizens were present
  • Citizens were informed on possibilities for communal purchases of PV cells and new rebates in tax law
  • Open sessions were held where experts and citizens came together to explore new options
  • Expert knowledge from the Lycksenberg cooperative, Linnaeus University, the association of energy trading companies, local grid operators and generation technology (biomass, PV,…) experts were provided