The award of the Schönauer Stromrebell went this year to our president, Dirk Vansintjan. Dirk has been fighting for a citizen-based energy transition for more than 30 years. As president of the European federation of citizen energy cooperatives, founded in 2013, together with his team, he recently achieved to get citizens and their communities acknowledged in EU legislation.
Ecopower: REScoop with nearly 60,000 members
In 1991, Dirk founded the renewable energy cooperative Ecopower with eight colleagues around his kitchen table in order to promote the development of renewable energy in Belgium. The origins of the Ecopower story date from 1985 when the watermill of Rotselaar was bought as part of a co-housing project. From there the idea for citizen energy production grew, and led to the foundation of Ecopower.
Ecopower operates 24 wind turbines, 3 hydropower plants and 300 photovoltaic plants with a total annual electricity yield of 90 gigawatt hours. Further plants are in the planning phase. "In addition, almost half of our members also operate a photovoltaic system privately," says Dirk Vansintjan.
Today, Ecopower is the largest energy cooperative in Flanders, Belgium, with nearly 60,000 members. The cooperative is both an energy producer and a supplier; a successful cooperative business working on the transition towards a sustainable, democratic energy system.
The energy transition to energy democracy
By reinforcing the renewable energy cooperative model in Belgium, Europe and beyond, Dirk Vansintjan works towards a green and sustainable energy landscape with citizens in the driving seat. Because climate change doesn't stop at national borders, the energy transition pioneer is also intensively involved at the European level. He helped to establish REScoop.eu, which was formally established in 2013. EWS eG, the organiser of the award, is a member of the REScoop.eu network.
I am delighted to receive this award on behalf of all Ecopower pioneers, employees and co-operators, as well as all members and employees of REScoop.eu - Dirk Vansintjan
REScoop is committed to strengthen energy cooperatives and other community energy groups through networking activities, training and support. The federation wishes to make the citizens voices heard in the European energy debate and therefore actively represents the interests of its members at EU level. Dirk Vansintjan succeeded in imposing new rights and supportive frameworks for citizens and communities in the EU Renewable Energy Directive and the Electricity Directive adopted at the end of 2018.
Schönauer Stromrebell award
The "Schönauer Stromrebell" prize is awarded by the Schönauer Energy initiative, the cooperative EWS and the city of Schönau. The prize winners are people who are personally committed to the environment and share the vision of doing business a sustainable and socially fair way.