April Success Story: 'Energetic Women' taking a stand
Community energy is key to action on the climate crisis. It can empower people, boost local economies, and reinvigorate communities. Community-led initiatives play an important part in the transition towards a 100% renewable and just energy future. Success stories of community energy projects can be found all over Europe. At REScoop.eu we want to highlight these stories, in order to further accelerate the movement towards a cleaner and democratic system. This month we’re visiting Troya Energy Cooperative in Turkey, as they have an inspiring story to share with us about the power of women in the energy sector. It is a story of hope in a country where women’s rights are currently at stake amidst a tumultuous public and political debate.
Throwback to the early days
Troya Energy Cooperative was established in May 2017 in the north of the Çanakkale province . Back in 2009 common concerns over the changing climate led to the establishment of the Troya Environment Association. The aim of the Association was to strengthen local communities in climate protection activities. The impetus was plans to establish 13 coal-fired thermal power plants in the region.
As the local communities were looking for ways to protect their local environment against these plans, the concept of a renewable energy cooperative caught their attention. At that time, no such initiatives existed in Turkey, but examples from Europe inspired them into researching the possibilities of producing their own green and sustainable energy and establishing their own renewable energy cooperative.
A legislative boost
In March 2016, thanks to the unwavering commitment of community energy advocates, not least the three women who would later form the board of directors of Troya Cooperative, the concept of renewable energy cooperative was introduced into Turkish law. This created promising perspectives for citizens who wanted to take matters into their own hands. That same year, the Troya Association started organising international conferences on energy cooperatives, inviting guests and experts from all over Europe. The aim of these conferences is to develop and strengthen the community energy movement across Turkey and Eastern Europe. Strikingly, over the years, half of all participants were women, even though women in Turkey are still highly underrepresented in the energy sector compared to other economic sectors.
This brings us back to May 2017. Eight members of the Association not only founded the first energy cooperative in Turkey, but also placed women at the centre stage. Oral Kaya, general manager of Troya, emphasises the importance of women’s participation in their cooperative and beyond:
Not only does our entire board consist of women, 57% of our cooperative members are women. We want to set an example and inspire (Turkish) women to become part of the energy transition. We hope that the women in our cooperative, as change agents, can open doors for women participation in other sectors of the economy as well.
Energetic Women of the Year
On International Women’s day 2020, the Turkish Association of Energy Economics awarded the board of directors of Troya Cooperative as ‘Energetic Women of the Year’. They were applauded for their role in bringing about the 2016 legislative changes and their continued efforts to support the movement and empowering other women to become active participants in the transition towards a sustainable future.
A bumpy road
Unfortunately, the path towards a sustainable and just future is never free of obstacles. In 2019, plans were being finalised to kick off the cooperatives’ first solar park. However, legislation changed again, leading to the cancellation of the project and disrupting the plan to become their own renewable energy producer. Only a handful of community initiatives managed to complete their renewable energy project before the amendment. However, many other Turkish energy cooperatives, including Troya, can only keep on fighting. Despite the drawback, the Association and Cooperative keep on avidly promoting the use of renewable energy and advocating for the empowerment of women in the energy sector.
Troya Energy Cooperative is one of our partners in the EUCENA project. EUCENA supports the citizens’ energy movement throughout Europe by fostering knowledge creation and transfer between South-eastern and Central Europe. More specifically, it provides knowledge and tools on community building, development and cooperation between communities. EUCENA is supported by the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
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REScoop.eu (2021). Tools and instruments for gender-just energy communities. EUCENA Gender and Energy Session #2. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.rescoop.eu/news-and-events/news/tools-and-instruments-for-gender-just-energy-communities-eucena-gender-and-energy-session-2-as-it-happened
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WECF International. (2020). The Power of Energy Communities - Online Seminar - YouTube. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk-ga4aUONM&ab_channel=WECFInternational