End of year Q&A: Dirk Vansintjan, European federation of citizen energy co-ops

The president of REScoop says the sector enjoyed growth and resilience despite global economic challenges

How has the last year been for energy co-operatives across Europe? 

In 2023, REScoop.eu celebrated its tenth anniversary, marking a decade of advancements in promoting co-operative renewable energy projects across Europe.

The year 2023 was marked by a significant growth of energy co-operatives across Europe – both in terms of number (we saw multiple new initiatives popping up in Central-Eastern Europe mainly) – as well as in size and scope of activities (we saw established energy co-operatives getting involved in more mature market segments such as offshore wind and district heating). REScoop.eu continued to be a driving force in advocating for the widespread adoption of citizen-owned renewable energy projects across Europe. At the European level we focused on several Fitfor55 package files such as the Market Design (ensuring a more decentralized and democratic internal energy market), the EPBD (supporting energy communities in energy efficiency and building renovation), the Social Climate Fund (leaving no one behind in the energy transition) and the Renewables Energy Directive (maximising the potential for communities to contribute to local renewables production). The federation facilitated knowledge exchange, collaboration, and support among its diverse network of co-operatives and energy communities. A highlight was the Community Energy Spring Gathering in Athens where over 200 community energy stakeholders from across Europe and the Balkans gathered to learn and discuss community energy topics.

In the face of global challenges, such as the energy and living crisis, REScoop.eu and its member co‑operatives demonstrated resilience, adaptability and a sense of belonging. From implementing renewable energy technologies to spearheading community engagement and solidarity initiatives, the co-operatives showcased the potential of citizen-driven energy solutions. Numerous projects throughout Europe not only generated clean energy but also empowered local communities,  created economic opportunities and managed to keep energy bills stable for their members.

What are your hopes for 2024?

Looking ahead to 2024, REScoop.eu envisions an increased role for citizen energy co-operatives in the European energy landscape, striving to make the co-operative model mainstream for renewable energy initiatives.

Click here for more Q&As from 2023