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July 25, 2012
By: BSW - German Solar Industry Association

Energy Cooperatives invest 800 Million Euros in Energy System Transformation in Germany

Freiburg, city district Vauban, Photo credit: Paul Gipe wind-works.org

Over 80,000 Germans are actively participating in cooperative power plant projects / Participation possible starting with minimal capital / Vast majority of energy cooperatives are using solar power.


More and more people in Germany are participating in citizen cooperatives that are actively contributing to the expansion of renewable energy sources, thus advancing the transformation of the energy system known as the energiewende. Currently, over 80,000 citizens in Germany have shares in collectively run systems for the generation of regenerative electricity and heat. The majority of these systems are solar power systems, which citizens can participate inwith even minimal amounts of capital.


Over 500 of the energy cooperatives founded in recent years have already invested a total of around 800 million euros in renewable energy sources. This is one of the findings of a current study presented today in Berlin by the Deutsche Genossenschafts- und Raiffeisenverband e.V. (DGRV), in cooperation with the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) and the Renewable Energy Agency (Agentur für erneuerbare Energien - AEE).


"Energy cooperatives are becoming a driving force behind the energiewende. They offer citizens an ideal possibility to get involved in the transformation of the energy supply at a local level, and in the process they increase the acceptance for energy projects in the region," says Dr. Eckhard Ott, Chairman of the DGRV.


More than 90 percent of energy cooperatives operate solar power systems, which can be set up nearly everywhere in Germany with only minimaltechnical and financial resources. "Solar technology and cooperative models are a perfect match. They represent the democratization of the energy supply inGermany and make energy supply accessible to everyone, regardless of their budget. Even if they do not have a rooftop of their own, citizens can thus profit from the energiewende," according to Carsten Körnig, Chief Executive Officer of the German Solar Energy Association.


"The participation of citizens is indispensible for the success of the energiewende in two respects: On the one hand, renewable energy sources enable a direct participation in local value creation. This is an opportunity which citizens, in particular, are recognizing and taking advantage of," explains Philipp Vohrer, Managing Director of AEE. "On the other hand, citizens’ participation helps build urgently needed competencies for the energiewende on a broad scale. Because people who are actively involved in the expansion ofrenewable energy sources at a local level," according to Vohrer, "are also willing to take on other responsibilities, for example regarding the technical requirements of system transformation." Two thirds of the cooperatives allow for participation with a contribution of under 500 euros; some of them evenhave a minimal entry-level contribution of less than 100 euros.


The DGRV study also shows another significant aspect, namely that members of energy cooperatives see the protection of the environment and the expansion of renewable energy sources, as well as the promotion of regional value creation, as a higher priority than profit. And these goals are being attained: “Calculations show that the electricity production of the energy cooperatives completely covers the household electricity needs of their members,” as Ott summarizes the findings.


AEE assumes that the number of collectively organized citizens’ power plants will continue to increase. In the bio-energy sector, many biogas systems or wood-fired power plants are in citizens’ hands. Citizens’ cooperative windparks are also on the increase.


Source: BSW - German Solar Industry Association

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