The majority of electricity supplied to citizens across Europe is supplied by only a handful of big Energy companies. In the UK "the big six" supplies 90% of energy customers, in Germany five companies have a similar share and in Spain only three energy corporations are dominant , People are fed up with this and are moving towards an entirely different energy system – one that gives people and communities ownership over their own, renewable energy systems.
These community power projects are on the rise with studies suggesting half of all citizens in the European Union could be producing their own renewable energy by 2050.
This much-needed transition won't happen on its own – it needs active, committed people willing to educate and support communities wanting to get their projects off the ground.
Earlier this month, 80 of these people came together near Girona (Spain) for the first European Energy Democracy* convergence at the beautiful cooperatively-owned venue of Mas Franch with its natural straw-bale building and DIY ethos.
On issues of community energy and people's ownership, we saw that there are a lot of exciting things happening in some countries, but this knowledge and these ideas are not being connected on the European level. We wanted to connect activists working on energy solutions with others who share that goal from other countries and bring the solutions, examples and stories into our overarching vision for a Europe free from fossil fuels.
We organised this convergence – as part of our School of Sustainability project, and with REScoop.eu – as a key part of our strategy to strengthen the young but growing movement to demand energy solutions be in people's hands. People came from 20 different countries and from many diverse backgrounds. They gathered to share ideas, stories and connect on the topic of energy ownership by people and communities.
While there are success stories from across Europe, there's still a noticeable East-West divide. We heard on one hand about successful, growing projects in Belgium, Denmark, Scotland and Germany and how they work. On the other hand, we heard about the struggles to get community energy projects off the ground in Eastern Europe and shared ideas on how to fight for Energy Democracy in these countries.
Next year we hope to have the second edition of this event in Milan, Italy in June 2018. So mark your diaries, and come and get involved in the next step of this exciting movement for energy solutions!
*Energy Democracy for us is anything that contributes to people and communities having ownership and control over the energy system.