With EU Sustainable Energy Week running from today until until Friday 27th June, Friends of the Earth Europe has gathered examples of community energy initiatives across Europe to highlight the benefits these projects can bring to individuals, communities, and the planet.
The potential of these initiatives is especially pertinent this week, with the EU proposing "pitifully weak" energy efficiency targets.
From wind farms to sustainably-sourced biomass plants, and from Slovakia to Spain, the diversity of projects that have sprung up over the last few years represents an exciting and empowering shift towards community-ownership and green energy.
Yet these projects need the support of our elected representatives in the EU, who must promote legislation to give community energy a fair chance in a market dominated by a small number of large energy companies. Friends of the Earth Europe is distributing these examples to the new MEPs who were elected to the European Parliament last month, to inspire them to champion local solutions to climate change and energy sovereignty.
Molly Walsh, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said "Across Europe, communities know that big energy companies do not have people's best interests at heart and are not making the changes we need to fight climate change. By taking energy into their own hands, people are benefiting from clean energy, safe energy, reduced fuel poverty, and stronger communities."
While the types of energy production may vary, the beneficiaries of these projects remain the same: communities. In Germany, a community wind park has created jobs and supplies enough electricity for 18,750 houses in the region, while a Portuguese co-operative is both supplying solar power and meeting the long-term energy needs of socially-minded institutions.
These experiences across Europe show that transition away from both a producer-consumer energy supply model and from dirty fossil fuels is not only necessary, but desirable and achievable.