March 2019 marks the end of our project. But there is more to come regarding Energy Efficiency in the Cooperative movement. More updates soon ... but first let's look back at our work throughout the project.
The REScoop PLUS project comes to an end: cooperative engagement for Energy Efficiency is valued
March 2019 - The REScoop PLUS project comes to its end after 36 months since its launch date on 1st March 2014. This project, supported by the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme, aimed to encourage renewable energy cooperatives (REScoops) in Europe to go beyond their core activities of producing and supplying energy and to take up energy savings for their members as a new pillar in their organisations. Involving 12 partners - of which 8 cooperatives - from across Europe, the objectives of the project have been threefold: provide scientific evidence on the role of Energy Cooperatives in changing energy consumption behaviour of their members; build a Toolbox to support Energy Cooperatives in implementing Energy Efficiency and provide guidance to policy makers to support the important role the Community Energy movement has in promoting Energy Efficiency around Europe.
Cooperative engagement lowers energy consumption
The project was successful in many aspects. Our research partners managed to link the cooperative membership with a strong impact on the energy citizenship. They found a statistical correlation between reduction in energy consumption of citizens on one hand and their cooperative engagement on the other. The REScoop PLUS research points out that - on average - REScoop members reduce their energy consumption by 20% per year when joining a cooperative. This reduction goes up to 45% if the cooperative member is also a prosumer. The majority of the tested group claims to have a better knowledge of energy related topics and 61% indicated lowering their energy consumption after joining the REScoop.
Community Energy Toolbox
The evidence based research proves there is a huge potential for energy savings, especially when citizens become energy cooperative members. Therefore, the community energy movement wants to take its responsibility in upscaling energy efficiency efforts by REScoops. To support cooperatives, the project gathered, analysed and replicated different energy efficiency activities of REScoops and launched the REScoop PLUS Toolbox, which brings together 7 tested tools that can support REScoops and their members. The toolbox is divided into two categories:
The coaching tools aim to help members better understand their consumption and provide guidance to cooperatives on how to encourage their members to move towards more efficiency and solidarity in their behaviours.
The district Heating tools aim to help REScoops at deploying a more efficient heating system for their community.
District heating is the most efficient way to deploy a heat network and to provide affordable heat for citizens. The best practices that we deployed are called the “Package Approach”, the “Technical Support” and the “Return Flow optimization”. They focus on the offering this system to the largest number of consumers locally. The Packaged Approach is a way deploy district heating in a way that allows cost-sharing in a fair way and avoids large investment costs for consumers. The Technical Support is focused on supporting the most vulnerable members to refurbish their heating system. Finally the last one is linked with optimizing return flow of heat through collective response of the members in order to allow for lower collective prices.
Finally, the project also looked at the role of the community energy movement within the European policy landscape. The aim was to enhance understanding among policy makers on the role citizens and communities have in taking energy saving measures, promoting the ‘energy efficiency first’-approach and addressing energy poverty. During the project, the partners had the opportunity to participate in discussions on the Clean Energy Package, that was agreed in December 2018. This new EU legislation acknowledges the unique role of the community energy movement and provides a set of rights for citizens and communities to participate in the Energy Transition. Now Member States will be required to implement these new requirements on energy communities and energy efficiency at the national level. The REScoop PLUS partners analysed the impact on existing national legislation and came up with recommendations for this transposition.
Recommendations regarding Member States’ NECPs
Recommendations for transposition of the Renewable Energy and Electricity Directive
Altogether, the REScoop PLUS project was an incredible experience for the cooperatives and REScoop.eu, the European federation of REScoops. The partners are very grateful to EASME and the European Union H2020 program for giving them the chance to explore and improve the awareness of the energy efficiency topic in the community energy movement. It is one important step on the cooperatives’ road towards a more energy efficiency energy system. Now the next step - coordinated by REScoop.eu – is to push and support REScoops to continue along this road. By doing so, we believe we can build a more responsible, socially fair and local embedded European energy system all together.
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