Belgium leads the way in citizen participation for offshore wind energy
2023, April 21, Brussels - Today, the Belgian federal government has confirmed its support for citizen participation in large offshore wind farms through renewable energy communities, making Belgium the leader in Europe for implementing the European directives on this front.
SeaCoop, a cooperative that brings together Belgian cooperatives that want to participate in offshore wind projects, together with the 3 Belgian REScoop federations and their members applauds the innovative vision of the Belgian federal government and underlines the Belgian federal government’s innovative vision.
This is the first time in Europe, if not the world, that a national government is encouraging citizen participation in large offshore wind farms through renewable energy communities.
The SeaCoop model enables active citizen participation in the energy transition, ensuring price stability and local sustainable anchoring
The cooperatives affiliated with the Belgian REScoop federations have been working to promote renewable energy via the short supply chain for more than 10 years. These cooperatives allow citizens to be both owners and users of their energy, ensuring that the energy produced is sold at a fair price, without excess profits. In 2022 alone, when energy prices rose so high, more than 100,000 citizens who were members of these renewable energy communities were able to save hundreds of euros on their annual electricity bill.
Membership in a citizen energy cooperative empowers citizens to take back control of their energy. Studies have shown that this leads greater ownership of the energy transition.
Thirty-four local cooperatives – active in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia – have joined forces and established the cooperative social enterprise SeaCoop cvso as the single point of contact for other stakeholders in the field of offshore wind energy. Through SeaCoop, local cooperatives will enable citizens to co-invest in offshore wind turbines and gain direct access to the energy produced there guaranteeing price stability and sustainable local anchoring of renewable electricity production. Their ambition is to invest 445 million euros in future North Sea wind farms.
SeaCoop aims to take 20% ownership of the wind farms and supply 20% of the electricity to citizens
To achieve this goal, SeaCoop will participate in the tender and establish partnerships with industrial and financial players active in the field of offshore wind energy. Contacts are currently being made and forms of cooperation are being developed.
SeaCoop, together with cooperative electricity suppliers Ecopower and Cociter, is preparing the practical arrangements for acquiring this electricity and then supplying it to the cooperatives. Securing supply contracts and managing such volumes of electricity remains a challenge, but SeaCoop is committed to meeting it.
In 2027, a national communication campaign will invite citizens to join one of the 34 local cooperatives to participate in this extensive initiative.
The tender encourages citizen participation with energy supply at a fair price
Today, Minister of Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten announced the terms and conditions of the tender for future wind farms in the Princess Elisabeth Zone. The tender criteria will allocate points to citizen participation, making it possible to supply citizens with offshore wind energy at a fair price. This decision reflects the government's commitment to the concept of a 'sustainable energy community', which prioritizes the wider impact above maximizing financial profit. Administrative autonomy and ownership of the means of production are also key components of this concept. Seacoop stands ready to make this vision a reality.
REScoop.eu welcomes this groundbreaking moment in the history of the Belgian community energy movement. Together, we can create a sustainable future for all.