What is a REScoop?
REScoop is short for renewable energy cooperative, and refers to a business model where citizens jointly own and participate in renewable energy or energy efficiency projects. We also refer to REScoops as community power or community energy initiatives.
REScoops do not necessarily have the legal statute of a cooperative, but rather distinguish themselves by the way they do business. They typically respect 7 principles that have been duly outlined by the International Cooperative Alliance:
All citizens are eligible to join a REScoop. After purchasing a cooperative share and becoming a member or co-owner of local RES and EE projects, members share in the profits and often are given the opportunity to buy the electricity at a fair price. In addition, Members can actively participate in the cooperative: they can decide in what and where the REScoop should invest, and are consulted when setting the energy price.
REScoops are not the same as financial cooperatives (FINcoops). The latter also issue shares to finance renewable energy projects, but unlike REScoops, the members of a FINcoop do not own the projects themselves. Projects are typically owned by a private company that receives a subordinated loan from the FINcoop. As a result, FINcoop members are exposed to a considerable financial risk. As a federation, we support the model with direct citizen participation because we believe that it fosters social acceptance for renewable energy.
REScoops are leading the energy transition to energy democracy, and make it possible for citizens to actively participate in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The REScoop model has many advantages. The most important ones are listed below.
REScoops foster social acceptance for renewable energy
Local opposition to renewable energy projects (typically wind turbines) decreases when citizens are given the opportunity to invest in and co-own the production installations. This is especially true when local citizens are involved from the very start of the project. Stakeholder involvement and direct citizen participation foster social acceptance for renewable energy. Local citizens not only share in the profits, they also have access to clean energy at a fair price
REScoops keep the individual investment affordable
Not everyone has a roof suitable for solar panels, nor does everyone have the financial capacity to make such an investment. REScoop production installations are typically owned by a large group of citizens, keeping the individual investment affordable.
REScoops benefit the local community
REScoops have a clear concern for the community. They usually share part of the profits with their members and use the rest to develop new projects or benefit the local community as a whole. Some REScoops for example have financed the construction of a local sustainable concert hall, while others erected a charging point for electric bicycles. Thus, all citizens benefit from the projects and the profits that they generate.
REScoops take action on energy efficiency
The revenues that result from renewable energy projects are often used to finance energy efficiency measures in public buildings. Some REScoops have paid for insulation material for public buildings, while others pay the wage of a local energy expert who helps citizens and the local municipality improve their overall energy efficiency.
REScoops keep money in the local economy
REScoops use local energy sources and include local citizens. Thus they keep money within the local community that would otherwise be lost. In addition, REScoops stimulate local employment and boost the local economy.
Watch the REScoop video to see how the citizens of Sifnos keep money in their local economy.