What is a RENCOP ?
The Co2mmunity partners will organise Renewable Energy Co-operative Partnerships (RENCOP’s) in their respective home countries. The basic functional set-up is comprised of communities, coordinators, and experts which can for example include citizens, authorities, businesses, and academia. Every RENCOP is different, but they all aim to implement renewable energy projects which would be unmanageable by one person or group alone. 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 (BSR) to learn from one another regarding 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. Therefore different tools for getting an overview of stakeholders and managing a RENCOP have been developed as part of the Co2mmunity project. The aim is also to support the development of more local and regional RENCOP’s.
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 project 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. Middelfart Municipalities strategy for RENCOP composition is often to explore possibilities. The political interest in sustainable development has encouraged the council to work with citizens in line with its tradition of seeking results more than strategies.
Stakeholders were identified in different ways, some were identified as stakeholders, as they are “usual suspects” and well established players in energy transition. Others were found by public announcements while others came on their own out of interest and curiosity. All stakeholders were analysed with a stakeholder mapping tool developed for the Co2mmunity project. The foci of the CE projects have been chosen in different ways. Some were fixed in advance and others were developed in the process. Some CE projects such as “Common purchase of heat pumps” were fixed in advance while other such as “Sol over Brenderup” evolved more spontaneously through sharing of ideas and discussions.
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 purchase heat pumps collectively. By purchasing as a group, the citizens can reduce their investment cost for the heat pumps.
Middelfart Municipality offers support and advice for the citizens such as helping to find different suppliers and ensuring that the project development process moves forward. In the end, the citizens of course still control the direction in which the project develops and if they want to make use of an offer at all.
The common purchase of heat pumps takes place twice a year, in spring and in autumn. The common purchase of heat pumps taking place in autumn is arranged in collaboration with the triangle municipalities. They are associated partners in Co2mmunity and the collaboration is a witness of spreading, and sharing experiences with community energy projects.
A new round of common purchase is planned for autumn 2020 together with the associated partner municipalities.
RENCOP Green City – Brenderup
The citizens of the village Brenderup decided 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 through the use of 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 proposal was submitted on the 1st November 2018.
The tender decision was made on the 9th 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 of thinking the district heating coverage in Denmark can increase from 64% to nearly 100%. This is done by creating collective organizations similar to district heating companies but with individual geothermal heat pumps across a neighborhood or even in each house. 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. Together, the energy companies TREFOR and EWII production and the municipality form an ‘expert’ RENCOP.
On Monday the 19th November 2018, a meeting between TREFOR and Middelfart Municipality was held in order to discuss the different possible ownership models of Termonet.
In November 2019, the RENCOP Termonet evolved to a new level. People around Denmark, citizens, companies, and associations, showed interest in this technology and the Termonet Union was founded on 16th of March 2020 as a result. Basically it is about combing ground heat pump systems with shallow geothermal drillings in combinations.
The union’s goal is to promote the knowledge of the Termonet technology in order to strengthen the transition to a more climate friendly heating system. Based on concrete solutions and the use of a known technology, this effort is expected to support FN´s world goals and has potential for national and global upscaling.
The concept of Termonet has been under development since 2014 and a number of public Danish projects have helped elucidate technical, legislative, and economical aspects around the establishment and operation of Termonet. In 2017, the first Termonet has been established near Silkeborg and in 2018 the Termonet in Middelfart Municipality has been established and several more are planned all around in Denmark.
It is possible for both citizens and organizations to join the association.
Føns – The First Movers
Føns Local Heating Plant is Denmark’s smallest district heating plant. It has been operating since October 1st 2015. The heating plant 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’ citizens prevailed and obtained 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 that has been chosen as case city for the ATES project. The aim of the ATES project is to analyse the technical and economic possibilities of a low temperature distribution system for common supply of individual heat pumps.
In Estonia, the development of community energy is still at a relatively early stage compared to countries such as Denmark or Germany. The inital attempts to establish energy cooperatives took place in 2015 and 2016 when the Energy Cooperatives Mentor Programme was implemented by the Estonian Development Fund. It was funded by ERDF and supports Estonian start-ups and their development through workshops, peer-to-peer learning, and mentorship programmes. The programme included 10 CE projects. Legislative gaps and obstacles to CE were identified in the programme and over the past couple of years were in part rectified by national law.
Currently, the Tartu Regional Energy Agency organises local RENCOP activities in Estonia. There is a relatively low level of awareness and preparedness in the field of energy cooperatives in Estonia. The main activities and objectives of this Estonian RENCOP are:
- Increasing the awareness of citizens, local municipalities, and communities about the possibilities of community energy cooperatives. The RENCOP shares the information about the benefits of cooperative production and consumption of energy, different technologies, and opportunities for communities.
- Spotting the stakeholders and interested communities to involve in RENCOP activities in future and the community energy issue in general.
- Working with specific CE initiatives
The first RENCOP meeting was held in May 2018 targeting rural communities and associations of individual apartment buildings’ residents. The workshop spread ideas and benefits of CE projects in addition to knowledge on CE and cooperatives in general. 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. This was then followed by leaders from existing cooperatives sharing their experiences. The last part formed a discussion on CE obstacles and how to overcome such obstacles for project realisation. The RENCOP has a focus on experts as drivers of new projects as the interest among citizens was low to begin with. Thereby, most of the experts can be sourced from TREA. In future, this is expected to change to establish community driven energy projects as well.
TREA’s RENCOP experts have also visited eco-communities and shared the information and knowledge in the general meeting of Estonian eco-communities in January 2019. Simultaneously, TREA has identified local municipalities as important stakeholders and therefore paid attention to disseminating information and raising awareness at this level. RENCOP experts visited and contacted some municipalities, more local municipalities will be contacted in the nearest future. By March 2019, two CE initiatives joined the Estonian RENCOP and now participate actively: Lilleoru ecovillage installing PV panels for central building and the Apartment association Kalda 64 in Tallinn, also installing PV panels on the roof as a part of larger renovation project.
The need for RENCOP-like entities has clearly emerged from the activities. Potential communities that would have an interest in producing their own energy do not have enough knowledge of the possibilities of creating and managing energy cooperatives, and the complexity of legal space and lack of awareness of funding opportunities raises hesitations and fears. The free support and expertise of the RENCOP experts in such a situation is very important.
Experts gathered in Tallinn, September 12, 2019
RENCOP core experts organised an afternoon meeting for selected relevant experts and other stakeholders in Tallinn on 12.09. 2019 in order to discuss the current status of CE, possible action plans for development of CE projects, to get fresh ideas, opinions and to inform key experts about the Handbook and Policy recommendations developed by the Co2mmunity project. The meeting determined main current barriers for energy cooperatives in Estonia (lack of motivation, lack of working financial schemes, lack of „passionate“ leaders, lack of knowledge etc.) and recommendations to overcome these barriers.
RENCOP seminar in Tartu, December 4, 2019
The next Estonian RENCOP seminar was held in Tartu on December 4, 2019. 20 participants from mainly South-Estonian regions attented representing potential CE initiatives, apartment associations, NGOs, local stakeholders and local municipalities.
The first part of the seminar was about community energy, the steps carried out so far in this field in Estonia, the Co2mmunity project and RENCOP approach as well as good examples of CE in Estonia and neighbouring countries (Germany, Denmark, Finland). The core topic of the first part was about renewable energy communities, the amended renewable energy directive and the adoption of Estonian law from a national level point of view presented by the Energy department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication.
The second interactive part of the seminar was dedicated to the CE country-specific handbook (developed under Co2mmunity project). Responsible experts introduced nature, content and main topics of the handbook. Following the handbook, main topics under common discussion were:
- main current obstacles, what specifically prevents you from setting up a community energy project?
- what would be the solutions?
- what can a municipality do to support community renewable energy projects?
- other hot local practical topics related to energy cooperatives (how to distribute produced energy internally within community, maintenance, CE in rural areas etc).
Results and findings from the discussion will be reflected during upcoming seminars and meetings. Some information will be used in the handbook under development. Activities agreed upon during the discussion will be implemented.
RENCOP in Finnish is: ‘uusiutuvan energian yhteisöhankkeita edistävät kumppanuus’. There are two RENCOPs developing in Finland, namely in South Ostrobothnia and in the region of Uusima around Helsinki.
Expert-driven RENCOP of South Ostrobothnia
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. The responsibility for the management of the South Ostrobothnia RENCOPs is divided between the regional partner organisations Thermopolis Ltd. – Energy Agency of South Ostrobothnia and Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia. The large amount of active local communities, such as village associations around the region, form an attractive environment for developing CE projects together with the experts. The first objective of the expert driven RENCOP in South Ostrobothnia was to increase the knowledge and discussion on CE projects among the RENCOP members, and this way increase their capability to enhance and foster these projects among their own work. 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. Throughout the meetings of the expert-driven RENCOP, the objective emerged to organise several open-RENCOPs for citizens in the region in order to distribute knowledge on community energy and to help forward individual CE projects. In rural areas the most important stakeholder groups are village communities whereas in urban areas the focus is on housing companies.
Together, the Co2mmunity partner organisations have planned the RENCOP work in the area, organised RENCOP meetings and given presentations at the RENCOP events as well as chaired the meetings. Several stakeholders have been involved not only in the expert workshops but also in the community engagement processes. For instance, the development office for the municipality of Alavus was involved in the sunny-Alavus project, organised in 2018, which provided the citizens of Alavus municipality a chance to get information on solar energy and to participate in a common purchase of solar panels. Similarly, in the beginning of 2019, a solar energy evening was organised for citizens and entrepreneurs together with the municipality of Ilmajoki.
Cooperation had a crucial role also in the case of organising a resource-efficiency evening for villages in the autumn of 2018 in Lappajärvi, where the local leader group (Local Action Group, LAG) Aisapari with its “To the villages” project was the co-organiser of the event. From there on, cooperation with LAG Aisapari has persisted and two energy evenings for the recreational groups, such as hunting groups, in the area has been organised in autumn 2019. This has led the hunting group in Kauhava Ylikylä to further a project in the beginning of 2020, which aims for installing an air heat pump, along with improving energy efficiency in their recreational building.
The Co2mmunity partners have identified local communities in various ways to present and discuss the potentials for local CE projects. Furthermore, Thermopolis Ltd. – Energy Agency of South Ostrobothnia and Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia have been spreading the news on CE and their willingness to support particular CE projects at local events (fairs, village events) and in the media. Also, local papers and news as well as leads from individual conversations have been followed carefully to find possibilities for CE projects. If clear interest in particular form of renewable energy has been detected, such as solar energy in Ilmajoki, this local interest has been supported. In South Ostrobothnia it has been evident that it is not practical to operate “from above”, but it is important to support local ideas and enthusiasm. Therefore, the RENCOP activities, which have started out as expert-led in South Ostrobothnia, have evolved towards community-led processes. Both approaches have been creatively used in South Ostrobothnia when seen necessary.
Helsinki RENCOP Development
The expert-driven Helsinki-Uusimaa RENCOP was established in January 2018. Green Net Finland (GNF) is the coordinator of the RENCOP. The operational model of the RENCOP is flexible – combining face-to-face meetings and different parallel activities such as participation in relevant events in Finland and in the wider Baltic Sea Region, communicating and disseminating the Community Energy Agenda. In total, there are nearly 40 experts involved in the Helsinki-Uusimaa RENCOP, diversely representing local public authorities, academia sector and businesses, providing services and technologies for renewable energy and/or community energy projects. For example, in the loop of the RENCOP are such organisations: City of Helsinki, Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, Aalto University, University of Helsinki, Finnish Environmental Centre SYKE, Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA, Motiva Oy, Finnish Heat Pump Association. GNF as the RENCOP coordinator continuously communicates and shares expertise and experiences from the Co2mmunity with other public funded development projects. To mention some: HUKATON, EKAT, Ilmastoviisat taloyhtiöt (Energy-Wise managing companies), Cata3Pult, Smart Energy Transition and CORE.
So far, the RENCOP has had five face-to-face meetings. News on outcomes can be found in the following:
- Meeting on March 3, 2020
- Meeting on November 27, 2019
- Meeting on February 27, 2019
- Meeting on November 21, 2018
The RENCOP coordinator GNF is communicating and collaborating meetings with other projects and initiatives which are related to the same focus – enhancing of renewable energy and energy self-sufficiency within community housing or within blocks of flats buildings. We are sharing expertise and understandings widely via discussions with regular citizens living/owning apartments in those buildings and also validating of knowledge with experts.
We arranged a lecture at the Climate School in Helsinki Hall on September 12, 2019: Record (in Finnish)
We are explaining that ground source heat pump (GSHP) system, exhaust air heat pump (EAHP) and solar PV combined with heating demand flexibility. Automation could be suitable for higher older block of flats buildings with existing machine ventilation especially if the housing company owns enough land plot for bore halls of GSHP system and there are no environmental restrictions (such as ground water) for geothermal system. Solar PV then is an effective and supportive element for such hybrid system. A complex approach is needed. In Co2mmunity work, GNF communicates with researchers from Aalto University from another ERDF project (HUKATON) on issues of hybrid energy system. So in the HUKATON, a block of flats building has been simulated and results are useful to utilise also in the Co2mmunity project, so target buildings in both projects are of the same type. Recently, we have got new understandings on how solar collectors and wastewater heat recovering could be implemented feasibly in defined Co2mmunity block of flats.
We are also writing relevant blogs and posts. Our blogs (in Finnish) can be found:
- Utta potkua energiahukan nujertamiseen v. 2020 alusta?
- Kerrostaloyhtiöiden kaukolämmön ja sähkön kulut Helsingissä nousivat n. 6% vuodessa.
- Taloyhtiön ostoenergian kulut kuriin – rahaa korjausvelan vähentämiseen ja asuinolosuhteiden parantamseen
- Kohti parempaa asumista aurinkoenergiaa hyödyntämällä
- Virossa tukijärjestelmät hellivät uusiutuvan energian ja energiatehokkuuden investointeja
Our RENCOP – The “Klimanetzwerk – Rendsburg/Eckerförde”
RENCOP in German would sound something like this: Kooperative Partnerschaft für Erneuerbare Energien, we simply call it Klimanetzwerk – Rendsburg/Eckerförde. It is a regional strategic (community renewable energy) network. It entails key regional civil society organisations and associations: the evang. luth. Kirche (Luth. Church), Heimatbund (Heritage Association), Naturfreunde (Nature friends), Landfrauen (Country Women’s Association), Volkshochschule (Adult education center), the climate management of the regional authorities (Kreis Rendsburg Eckernförde), as well as a number of various CE experts.
The German RENCOP in the Rendsburg-Eckernförde district is organised by Energiebürger.SH: the Co2mmunity partner in Germany.
Energiebürger.SH has the aim to enhance civic involvement: to inform citizens and honorary politicians about climate change, regional impacts and opportunities relating to renewable energies, as well as to engage people to actively participate in the German Energy Transition. It is a union of various educational institutions and the Church, Nordkirche. The Böll foundation of Schleswig-Holstein is an agency for cross-party independent political education and is one of the key actors in Energiebürger.SH. The foundation strives to foster democracy and participation among citizens, and to empower people to become active in the Energy Transition.
Switching to renewable energies and climate protection are global issues that many people are itching to deal with on a local level. Therefore, many small steps need to be taken and not only great leaps. So how is it possible to make a local change? 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 more info also check out their flyer.
Energiebürger SH is seen as a strategic partnership for fostering the Energy Transition and is currently engaged in the county of Rendsburg-Eckernförde to establish a RENCOP. Rendsburg-Eckernförde is politically committed to the Energy Transition and has published a climate concept for the region, the ‘Klimaschutzkonzept Kreis Rendsburg-Eckernförde’. Our goal with the RENCOP is to strengthen and empower citizens to take an active role in the Energy Transition in their community.
In 2019, we have organised numerous events in the region. To help inform and empower not only citizens but also politicians, we have organised seminars regarding the possibilities and potentials in initiating CE projects, as well as subsequently built-up the Klimanetzwerk – Rendsburg/Eckerförde. This has the overall aim to reach out in society, especially through new alliance to groups, which have not been active within the community energy movement so far.
We started with highlighting the issue of wind power, which has been a politically challenging topic in the region. The government halted the expansion of wind energy until 2020, therefore, we felt that there was a need to disseminate information on the issue. We started with “wind seminars” and additional seminars surrounding other sources of renewable energy production such as solar and bio thermal followed during autumn. Two seminars conducted in relation to wind energy:
- Political Planning Processes (Flyer): The public 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 development for the state of Schleswig-Holstein on December 4, 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 (Presentation 1), as well as the possibilities and procedures to give input into the spatial planning process (Presentation 2). A follow-up meeting took place on March 14, 2019.
- Strengthening Regional Value Chains (Flyer): The focus of the second seminar was to inform municipalities and citizens about opportunities to strengthen local or regional value chains while promoting CE projects. The mayor of Klixbüll, Werner Schweizer, gave his insights on how the municipality of Klixbüll was tackling the challenges of the Energy Transition, turning the transformation into an opportunity for the region.
- We organised a scenario workshop on possible futures relating to the Energy Transition in Schleswig-Holstein, focusing on implications for the county of Rendsburg-Eckernförde. This RENCOP workshop was held in cooperation with the county of Rendsburg and various civil society groups from the region. A great number of participants – young and old – discussed about possible futures and actions needed to hamper climate change.
In autumn 2019, several events under the name Rendsburger Klima-Herbst have been initiated together with our partners.
Besides our seminars we organised discussions at the fair or movie evenings with facilitated discussions on the topic of the Energy Transition.
In December 2019, while the international climate negotiations took place in Madrid, together with our RENCOP partners, we organised locally, at the Christmas market in Gettorf, a stand informing about our climate network with small activities on producing homemade sustainable Christmas gifts.
Hence during 2019 and beginning of 2020, we have built-up an informal central RENCOP with multiplier organisations, which now are in the phase of developing local spin-off‘s. In these local RENCOPs, concrete CE projects will be developed and carried out. It was planned that each partner will host a series of CE related events in their networks during 2020. Also joint events were planned. However, due to the Corona-crises, these events are now being re-planned and re-scheduled.
In January 2020, we started the Energy Citizen Course in Rendsburg, a course designed to enable citizens to jointly develop and implement their own CE projects. More information can be found at www.energiebuerger.sh.
Together with the Riga Planning Region, we are planning a joint Co2mmunity Latvian-German exchange event and study trip to Schleswig-Holstein in August 2020, where we will present the RENCOP and other CE initiatives.
Latvia has a high share of renewable energy in its national energy mix. Hydropower accounts for 53% of the total power capacity and it supplied about 33% of Latvia’s electricity in 2015 (IEA, 2017). Biomass has gradually replaced fossil fuels as a source for the production of electricity and heat and the overall consumption rate has also increased. However, the share of oil is still relatively high at 34%. A positive characteristic is the wide use of local district heating systems.
On the other hand, most district heating companies are owned by local municipalities and individual households do not possess shares in these companies. As a result, many other community energy approaches are not well-known. To date, there are only few successful examples that demonstrate direct involvement of households in the production of heat or electricity.
As part of Co2mmunity project activities in Latvia, project partner Riga Planning Region in cooperation with its major stakeholder – the municipality of Mārupe – attempt to implement a pilot project in Mārupe by establishing and monitoring a citizen-driven RENCOP and thus demonstrating the ways how the existing problems can be overcome in practice. It is also important to resolve the myths that still hinder wide implementation of community energy projects in Latvia, such as:
- renewable energy is expensive;
- benefits are incomparable to the amount of investment needed;
- there is a relatively small number of sunny days in Latvia, making the use of solar energy less profitable;
- renewable energy projects should always be co-financed from the EU or other support instruments.
Pilot Project in Mārupe
To facilitate the introduction of the RENCOP concept in Latvia and better understand the existing situation, Riga Planning Region / Mārupe municipality started by conducting a survey in Mārupe in 2018, the results of which showed a generally positive attitude towards renewable energy. It appeared that the residents were well informed about various energy-efficient lighting or heating solutions but knew very little about community energy projects or energy cooperatives as such. To capitalize on that, two public participation workshops were organized targeted at local citizens and NGO’s as a follow-up activity in order to identify local household communities that willing to participate in the RENCOP pilot project as well as to search for certain technical solutions. In parallel, several research studies that addressed the legal framework for renewable energy communities, the evaluation of economic potentials and the analysis of the existing situation in Mārupe were initiated.
The eresults of these recent research studies show that there is a high potential for energy efficient local communities in Mārupe. The owners of many individual apartments already de facto exist within unified communities even if they are not aware of this and have not registered their communities as legal entities – cooperatives or household associations. However, to be able to introduce major energy efficiency improvements in an apartment house, it is also necessary that the owners of individual apartments come to an agreement witht the owner of the buildings. This applies to both the heat insulation of the houses and the introduction of new renewable energy solutions for the development of local energy supply networks.
Smaller energy communities can also be developed within the segment of detached houses, which are widespread in Mārupe given the fact that it is a typical suburban municipality where a high percentage of residents are daily commuters. Preliminary studies have shown that the systems of solar panels for have the highest potential for the generation of power implementation in detached houses.
In order to perform the assessment of energy efficient solutions in various existing or potential communities at Mārupe district, several house owners were approached and initial technical solutions developed in order to introduce ecologically-friendly renewable energy solutions in the selected pilot sites.
Five public participation workshops have been organised in Mārupe since 2019 to allow local citizens and NGO’s come together, discuss the urgent issues and, more importantly, select local household communities that are willing to participate in the RENCOP pilot project that includes both public participation process and a demonstration of certain technical solutions.
In the end, three pilot sites were selected for an in-depth analysis (see below). The project team, municipal experts and external consultants guide these citizens and provide their expertise, including technical know-how.
Examples of Pilot Sites in the Municipality of Mārupe
Apartment house at Krones street
The house was commissioned in 2008. The total useable area of the house is 7799 square metres and there are 108 apartments. The primary heating is provided by a gas-fired boiler located in a separate boiler house next to the apartment house. Power supply, water supply, sewage and gas supply provided from centralised systems.
There are two gas-fired heating boilers “Viessmann” Vitoplex 100 PX1 located in the separate boiler room with a capacity 500 kW, supported by heat exchangers with a capacity of 730 kW. Two hot water accumulation boilers (1000 litres each) are used for the supply of hot water. The boiler is controlled automatically.
The total energy consumption for hot water production ~ 336 MWh/year. The average consumption of natural gas ~36,400 m3.
The proposed solution: installation of solar collector system with a total surface area of 60 square meters. This would allow for the production of 60 MWh of heat energy. The estimated amount of costs in the range of EUR 30,000.
Benefits: natural gas savings of 6,500 cubic metres a year. CO2 reduction by 12,000 kg /year.
Apartment house at Mazcenu aleja 15, Jaunmārupe
The residential building at Mazcenu aleja 15 is located in the village Jaunmārupe, it was built in 1980 ad it is connected to the district heat supply system. Heat supply is provided by a local energy company “Sabiedrība Mārupe”, Ltd. The house has undergone full-scale renovation in 2018. There are 18 apartments in the house and the total energy consumption for hot water production is ~100 MWh/year.
In order to estimate the necessary capacity of the solar collector, the data on heat consumption for hot water production were collected.
It is recommended to install a system of solar collectors with a total surface area of 20m2 at Mazcenu aleja 15. The total annual production capacity of this system would then be 20 MWh which will correspond tot around 20% of the total energy demand.
The estimated installation costs are in the range of 12,000 EUR including all taxes. Given the current prices for heat (50 EUR/MWh), one can assume that the pay-back period of this equipment would be around 10 years.
It is also important to consider the environment factor, as the introduction of the proposed solution with the solar collector will reduce the burning of the fossil energy resources, in this particular case – natural gas, by 2,100 m3, resulting in the reduction of CO2 emissions by 4,000 kg/year.
Twin house at Mazā Dravnieku street
The twin house project at Mazā Dravnieku street was commissioned in 2016. The total living area of the house is 280 m2. The space heating of the house is provided by local natural gas-fired heating boilers and the mean total gas consumption amounts to 2200 m3 / year. The average electricity consumption of the house is ~ 3,000 kWh/year. Given the amount of the consumption of natural gas, the estimated energy efficiency of the building equals 73 kWh/m2/year. This energy efficiency index is much better than at most other locations in Mārupe, however, it should be assessed as average in comparison to the target of 30 kWh/m2 /year set at the national level for year 2021.
The proposed solution: installation of solar collector system with a total surface area of 5 square meters. This would allow for the production of 4,000 -5,000 kWh of heat energy. The estimated amount of costs in the range of EUR 2,000 – 3,000.
Benefits: Natural gas savings of 480 cubic metres a year. CO2 reduction by 800 – 1,000 kg /year.
Taking international and local experiences to national policy – makers
The project team have also had several meetings with the national energy policy maker – the Ministry of Economics to discuss the contents of the local outputs and participated in the matchmaking event at the National Energy and Climate Plan 2030 conference in Latvia. The NECP 2030 is the most important strategic energy and climate policy document in Latvia that details goals, instruments and actions that contribute to the development of a climate neutral national economy. For the first time, the plan clearly demonstrates the necessity to encourage implementation of community energy approaches in Latvia.
The matchmaking event that was organized as part of the conference provided the Riga team an excellent opportunity both to share the experiences of the Co2mmunity project with other invited transnational cooperation projects and strengthen the existing links to national energy policy makers.
As well, based on the knowledge of other Co2mmunity partners and own experiences in Mārupe, the project team have started elaboration of the policy recommendations that will be submitted to the national energy and climate change mitigation policy makers. This project output will be published in May, 2020.
Dissemination of knowledge
Given the scarce amount of information about community energy projects in Latvia, project publicity and dissemination of project outputs become an important part of project activities in Riga / Mārupe. This is being done by regularly updating information on the partner websites and by publishing articles in the local newspaper “Mārupes vēstis” (News of Mārupe). In parallel to these publicity activities, the Riga team have organised discussions with a number of local stakeholders (local municipalities, non-governmental organisations, state agencies and private energy service companies) in search for ways that could facilitate the distribution of project-related information via their own professional networks.
In order to promote the project approach and encourage more active involvement of local community, the municipality of Mārupe have developed a new sub-section on their website to facilitate communication between the municipality and its citizens on issues related to community energy, climate change, green economy and energy efficiency on local level. The main target group of the recent publication are the local population, irrespective of age and background.
Presented in a clear and easily understandable way, the publication contains both general information about the project and an update of Co2mmunity activities in Mārupe, including presentations from the recent RENCOP meetings, and some audiovisual material. The purpose is to sustain the public participation process that has been established in Mārupe, inform about local success stories and to give productive feedback to and from the local community. A special e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org (roughly translated into English as “Go green at Mārupe”) has also been created for communication on issues related to energy efficiency and use or renewable energy in the municipality.
For additional information on Co2mmunity / RENCOP activities in Mārupe, contact Ms Ilze Krēmere, Head of Development Division, Mārupe Municipality (email@example.com) or Mr Ilgvars Francis, Co2mmunity administrative coordinator in Latvia (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In 2016, RE accounted for approximately 25.5% of the final energy consumption in Lithuania. Accordingly, consumption of electricity from RE was approximately 17%, in total heat consumption – about 46%, and in the transport sector – about 4%. A significant share of resources in energy production comes from wind and biofuels (solid and liquid). A problem is the lack of knowledge and regulatory frameworks for CE. Generally, Lithuanian communities are not familiar with the concept of CE and usually command insufficient management knowledge, which discourages communities from taking on energy business projects. Increasing the number of small electricity producers from renewable sources requires different conditions for consumption, storage, distribution, and sale of produced energy. Consequently, communities need education. In addition, it is particularly important to define and regulate the concept of electricity-producing users, so-called prosumers. Clear and understandable requirements combined with favorable operating conditions, could be a real incentive to develop RE projects in communities. Lastly, many communities require monetary support to make the necessary upfront investments.
Kaunas Regional Energy Agency (KREA) has organized a broad information campaign to publicize the Co2mmunity project and its goals. Special attention was paid to rural communities and the official Local Action Groups (LAG’s) in the regions. A project presentation event took place in Kaunas, where representatives from more than 20 communities were gathered. This included representatives of home associations, municipalities (elderships), science and technology specialists, and suppliers and installers of RE equipment. We were working with a variety of communities, but it proved difficult to create energy communities. A lack of initiative and specific knowledge were the main barriers to creating energy communities. KREA is actively working with more than 10 communities, but lack of intentness and initiative in them does not create favourable conditions for the creation of the energy community.
An example are the activities in the Gramančia Community Centre in Pagramantis. There, Co2mmunity works with the local community to establish a rooftop PV system. The Gramančia Community Centre was registered in 2005. In 2017, the idea of establishing of community house arose and was then implemented. A part of a building was renovated for the purpose to the community’s activities and to improve the living condition of its elderly members, by providing healthcare, nursing services and giving opportunities for active communication.
CE thereby becomes a tool to unite the Pagramantis population and strengthen community spirit. Furthermore, the energy project is tied to 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, CE gives suggestions to local and regional authorities.
A successful example of a community renewable energy project:
Miroslav Blessed Trinity Parish (Alytus district),
(KREA, “Co2mmunity” project, December 2019)
Miroslav Parish, founded in 1744, unites 34 villages. Its territory stretches from Talokiai village to Lazdijai regional municipality, from river Nemunas to Obelija Lake. There are 7 garden communities in the parish area with an increasing number of residing families (2721 inhabitants in total). The Parish closely cooperates with the eldership and the municipality.
The total area of the buildings owned by the parish is as follows: the Church building is about 850 sq. m and parish house about 300 sq. m with total electricity consumption 13,000 – 14,000 kWh / year. Electricity is used for space heating: part of the church has heated floors, parish house is heated using air-to-water heat pumps (previously heated with solid fuel). The church has been equipped with local electric heating of benches (electric mats) for several years.
The idea of installing a solar power plant came to the priest dr. Miroslav Dovda, and the reasons were:
• High lighting and heating costs ;
• Land owned by the parish is close to the Church building (no energy transfer costs);
• Decreased community activity due to cold premises;
• The drive to transfer from solid fuels and create a sustainable environment.
Action sequence – steps
• Discussions with parishioners, consultations with local and external professionals, and assistance from relatives of local population with experience in renewable energy installations, as well as in elaborating grant applications.
• Evaluation of financing options: loan facilities, own funds from parishioners and / or private investors, search for support funds and / or national programs.
• Preparation of technical documentation: estimate of needs (initial option was 50 kW, the next option reduced to 25 kW), search of hardware suppliers and installers, preparation of formal documents.
• Preparation of public procurement conditions and arrangement of public procurement.
• Signing the contract with the winner and drawing up the work schedule.
The main stages of the community energy project
• Getting Started (Discussion and Information Search) – June 2018.
• Submission of application (application received support for capacity of 15 kW only) – December 2018.
• Allocation of funding (80% intensity) – 2019. Spring.
• Assembly and adjustment works – 2019. Summer.
• Connection of solar PV plant and start of production – September 6, 2019.
• Audit and Monitoring Organization (APVA) Conclusions – November 2019.
• Receipt of funds to the account and settlement with contractors – likely December 2019.
• Parish electricity costs reduced by about 30%
• Elimination of solid fuel heating costs (no solid fuel and boiler operator are needed)
• CO2 emissions dropped to zero
• Increased parish attendance, more community events.
Conclusions and Perspective
• First few months of solar PV plant operation disclosed that such investment is feasible. The reduction of costs was notified duringautumn months even, when energy generation is not close to nominal.
• Further development of a solar PV plant up to a initially planned 25 kW with a view to fully cover all electricity needs.
The Co2mmunity partner implementing the Polish RENCOP activities is the Foundation for Sustainable Energy (FNEZ). The work of the RENCOP is focused on the opportunities for the development of energy clusters, energy cooperatives and housing associations as forms of community energy.
At the beginning of September 2018, the RENCOP kick-off meeting took place in Warsaw. It was an opportunity to hear inspiring stories of energy clusters and join discussions with experts on the future of the CE market in Poland. The following meetings were divided into various topics such as legislation, financing, public acceptance, and presence in the power system. In the amendment to the Law on Renewable Energy in 2016, energy clusters were introduced as a cooperation between natural persons, legal persons, universities, and local government units for generating and balancing the demand, distribution or trade in electricity. In practice, clusters are local coalitions stretching up to 5 municipalities, including all kinds of energy-related activities and actors from all spheres of society. As such, clusters are ideal for promoting CE in the transition to RE as they can include individuals, housing associations or other community organisations. The approach is to create a working group on the meso-level; including local clusters and working towards creating appropriate frameworks on the national level.
In October 2019, FNEZ, seeing the growing involvement and interest, invited the identified housing cooperatives and communities to cooperate within the working group. These entities willingly engage, invest and implement renewable energy installations. The energy produced, mainly from roof-mounted photovoltaic installations, is used for own needs, in common areas, e.g. for lighting staircases.
In November 2019, FNEZ has initiated merging the work of the RENCOP working group with the work of the RES Council – led by one of the RENCOP members – the Lewiatan Confederation. The combined works will concern a joint discussion on the conditions for the development of CE, recommendations for legal and organisational changes in this area. The joint works are to enable the creation and dissemination of good practices for its development among stakeholders and increase the ability to implement civic energy projects, also by creating a favourable regulatory environment.
In December 2019, representatives of FNEZ, as a part of the RENCOP Working Group activities, took part in a meeting of the RES Council. During the meeting, the assumptions and objectives of the Co2mmunity project conducted by FNEZ were presented. The participants of the meeting were also acquainted with the structure of the Handbook for Renewable Community Energy.
In March 2020, a Polish national RENCOP Working Group meeting was held, where conclusions of the Handbook for Renewable Community Energy were presented. The following topics were also discussed:
- new ministries and division of competencies in the light of the amendment to the Act on Government Administration Departments;
- draft legal acts:
- draft Act on promotion of electricity generation in offshore wind farms;
- draft amendment to the Act on the environment and its protection, participation of the public in environmental protection, and environmental impact assessments;
- directions of potential amendments to the Act on wind investments – revision of the “10h” rule.
FNEZ maintains regular contact with RENCOP representatives through teleconferences, e-mail correspondence as an ongoing process of active dialogue, which enables the exchange of knowledge between the participants and the translation of the identified problems into concrete actions.
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: email@example.com
Updates on recent activities and upcoming events in Polish can also be found on the FNEZ webpage: www.fnez.pl
Sweden has a national goal to have 100% renewable electricity production by 2040. This means that many new RE plants will be built over the next decades. Many of these will be large, but also small-scale projects are needed and play an important role to reach the postulated goal. The Energy Agency for Southeast Sweden is working to support small community-driven projects 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. Also, there is a large potential as about one fifth of Swedes lives in approximately 1 000 000 apartments organised in housing cooperatives in Sweden. While cooperatives have a long-standing tradition, especially in the agricultural and retail sectors in Sweden, challenges to energy cooperatives are that the overall national support framework and the grid regulations are not yet adopted to community-driven energy generation, such as solar PV. However, in the last years, the price decrease for solar PV, a government support of 30% of the investment costs, and a tax reduction for electricity sold to the grid have put solar PV within the realm of reasonable investments for housing associations. To support as many housing cooperatives as possible, the approach of the Energy Agency for Southeast Sweden is that of an expert RENCOP.
The RENCOP is active since 2017 and several meetings and workshops have been held. In these meetings:
- Initially open meetings were organised with focus on all types of citizen organisations/associations being invited.
- Citizens were informed on possibilities for installing Solar-PVs and new rebates in tax law for small-scale RE-systems.
- Open sessions were held where experts and citizens came together to explore new options.
- Expert knowledge from the Lyckanseberg housing cooperative (a good example), Linnaeus University, swedenergy (energiföretagen Sverige), local grid operators, and generation technology (biomass, PV etc.) experts were provided. Early in the project and onwards a cooperation with the County administrative board was started.
Quite early in the project it was decided to focus on housing associations as target group and try to inspire these to install Solar-PV. The activities have continued with open meetings throughout the Southeast Sweden region (Kronoberg, Kalmar and Blekinge). More than 200 individual persons have visited the open meetings. Experience shows that especially the contact with other housing associations that already have experience with a solar PV installation (Good practice), is an efficient way to stimulate additional projects. Caution is in place when inviting providers of PV panels and services as the RENCOP organiser should retain its credibility as an honest broker for the interests of the citizens.
Since spring 2019, the RENCOP has been reorganised. The network of energy advisers at the municipalities in Southeast Sweden has been tied to the RENCOP and form the basis of the RENCOP experts. These advisers are active in most of the municipalities in Southeast and are early aware of new initiatives and can give guidance at first hand. The Energy Agency for Southeast Sweden will then through Co2mmunity arrange open inspiration meetings, give detailed advice, and monitor the progress and barriers for new initiatives.
On May 7, 2020, a “Solar safari” will be organised all over Sweden. Citizens are invited to visit existing solar-PV installations in their city to get information and inspiration. Energikontoret are coordinating these meetings in Southeast Sweden. Find more information info here.
Guidelines for participatory mobilisation process to set up a RENCOP
This report is providing some guidelines for those who want to embark on the journey of being a part of the energy transition. Although this report is developed in the context of the Baltic Sea Region, as one of the outcomes in the project, the approach is generic and can be used in all geographical areas. The aim of this report is to provide municipalities, individual citizens and/or citizens’ associations knowledge, how to develop participatory processes (i.e. RENCOPs) for stimulating community energy projects on a regional or local level.