Power of local community energy – success stories from Utrecht

The growing need to minimize the effects of climate change is felt by people worldwide. Drastic steps must be taken to reduce CO2 emissions. Fossil fuels must be replaced by sustainable, renewable alternatives.

In order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, the generation of sustainable, affordable energy is key. To reach an inclusive energy transition, citizens must be more involved. They are therefore increasingly taking matters into their own hands. They organize themselves in collective associations, energy cooperatives, to generate their own clean energy. This involvement and cooperation of citizens is the power of community energy.

Presentation of research

On Wednesday evening, May 15, we organised a meeting on this very topic in Anne, Utrecht’s community centre for sustainable initiatives. The audience was welcomed by our director Kirsten Meijer, after which Marieke Donders presented the results of her research and discussed how she had approached this research.

This was followed by an interesting panel discussion with Rachel Heijne (councilor GroenLinks), Josje Fens (initiator Rijne Energie) and Paul van Seters (chairperson Energie-U and professor of globalization and sustainable development at Tilburg University). The panel members gave them different views on the questions that were asked and the audience also participated well in the discussion. Subjects that were discussed included the role that the municipality plays in supporting energy cooperatives and the energy transition, and why it is important that energy cooperatives strive for equal gender relationships within their boards.

Power of community energy

We, as WECF, are working globally with local partners emphasising the importance of local initiatives in energy transition.  But a lot of knowledge and experience is available too on this topic  in the city of Utrecht, where our headquarter is based. For that reason, we collected best practices of Utrecht’s energy cooperatives, organised a panel debate with stakeholders and energy cooperatives and collected the information into the publication “The Power of Community Energy – successes from Utrecht and the importance of connections for local energy“.

The Netherlands has a high number of energy cooperatives and there are important lessons to be learned from examples in the city of Utrecht. In the publication, you can read more about our six recommendations to starting energy cooperatives.

This publication was produced with financial support of the City of Utrecht’s Utrecht4GlobalGoals project and the European Union. The content of the publication can in no way be seen as representing the opinions of the EU.