The European Parliament and Council have just agreed rules on how to roll out renewable energy over the next decade, as part of its Winter Package, an overhaul of the continent’s energy system.
Watching this progress from a British perspective, Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, wrote on his blog that it is a testament to the power of co-operation.
He highlighted the foundation in 2013 of ResCoop.eu, a network of European renewable energy co-ops, “prompted by an inspiring co-op in Flanders and sheltered initially by Cooperatives Europe, the regional network of the International Cooperative Alliance”.
“Creating a common voice and platform has now paid historic dividends,” wrote Mr Mayo, “as European policy makers have recognised the model as a vital one for mobilising people around low carbon energy systems.”
He said the EU now has a binding objective of increasing renewables by 32% by 2030, with the possibility of increasing the target in 2023.
“For the first time ever the rules now provide an explicit role for citizens and communities through co-operatives in the future of renewables,” wrote Mr Mayo.
“The Renewables Directive contains a strong definition of ‘renewable energy communities’ as well as a definition of ‘self-consumption’. The Directive provides rights, as well as a basis for developing national rules and enabling regulatory frameworks to help them flourish throughout Europe.”
But he said renewable energy co-ops in the UK would have to work to ensure their voice is heard by policy makers.
“It is now over to member states to look at how they will implement this, encouraged along by co-ops in every country,” he wrote. “The timetable stretches longer than the UK, with Brexit, is set to remain.
“If we want all this for the UK, and we have some elements already, we are going to have to build a strong voice by going back to where we started… co-operation.”