Nav: Home

Renewable energy cooperatives, an opportunity for energy transition

November 12, 2018

The transition from fossil to renewable energy sources is a necessary condition for the sustainability of human societies. There are movements in societies seeking to make this transition "not merely technological but also designed to exploit the capacity for social transformation they offer, given the possibility of their modular use and capacity for producing energy on a local level", said Álvaro Campos-Celador, researcher in the Department of Thermal Engines and Machines of the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Engineering - Bilbao and author of the study, together with Jon Terés-Zubiaga of the same department, and Iñigo Capellán-Pérez of the University of Valladolid.

Renewable energy cooperatives are good candidates for this; they are made up of groups of citizens and undertake to generate and market renewable energy. "Models of this type could replace the current energy model, which is virtually in the hands of five major companies, and make it more democratic, non-profit making, and one in which citizens can play an active role in energy, which is something so important and central to their lives," pointed out Jon Terés.

Yet "renewable energies are not enjoying the best of times; even though they have had very strong institutional support since 2004, a series of regulatory changes took place around 2011 and almost completely hampered the possibility of implementing renewables in an economically viable way, and led to the bankruptcy of enterprises and small investors", explained Campos.

The researcher describes the reasons that led to this change as complex. "Before the economic crisis, forecasts had been made indicating that consumption was expected to rise in the population and investments were made in all kinds of power stations, both renewable ones and ones based on fossil fuels. What happened is that from 2008 onwards consumption not only failed to continue to rise, it began to decrease, so many investments ended up jeopardised, above all in the free-market scenario," explained Campos.

n the study they analysed, in that situation, the ownership of the various sources of energy existing across Spain. "Over 90% of the ownership and production of fossil energies corresponds to the major electricity companies that enjoy, let us say, excellent relations with that various governments there have been, and yet renewable energies correspond more to other investors," specified the researcher. This conflict could have been responsible for what happened".

What is more, during the same period "a story appeared in the press saying that renewables were expensive and were making the price of electricity higher and that we were all paying for this. When examining the references of the people who were evaluating this phenomenon, we saw that it was possible to demonstrate the opposite, in other words, that renewables were in fact cutting the price of electricity," he said.

Faced with all this hostility, "the cooperatives found themselves forced to adapt to the new context and have managed to forge ahead with new projects by means of innovative funding methods," reasoned Terés. For example, the initiative "Recupera el Sol" (Recover the Sun) aims, by means of small contributions by citizens, to "socialize" photovoltaic plants, which many owners have found themselves forced to renounce because they could not secure a return that was sufficient to offset the financial costs of their investment.

Right now, the number of contracts that the cooperatives have across Spain as a whole exceeds 70,000. "Although this does not account for more than 0.3% of all the electricity contracts in Spain, it is true that the number is growing significantly, and in particular over the last 3 to 4 years," said Campos.

"I believe that the mission of the cooperatives right now is to demonstrate that renewable energy and this way of managing energy is viable, and even cheaper in terms of the price of electricity. There is no doubt that much remains to be done, but in actual fact there is a very strong potential. And a more favourable regulatory framework would undoubtedly encourage the expansion of renewables," concluded Campos.
Additional information

This study was conducted by three researchers: Iñigo Capellán-Pérez, member of the Research Group on Energy, Economy and System Dynamics of the University of Valladolid, and Álvaro Campos-Celador and Jon Terés-Zubiaga, both of whom are lecturers in the UPV/EHU's Department of Thermal Engines and Machines.

Bibliographical reference

Iñigo Capellán-Pérez, Álvaro Campos-Celador, Jon Terés-Zubiaga
Renewable Energy Cooperatives as an instrument towards the energy transition in Spain
Energy Policy (2018)
DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2018.08.064

University of the Basque Country

Related Renewable Energy Articles:

Scientists take strides towards entirely renewable energy
Researchers have made a major discovery that will make it immeasurably easier for people (or super-computers) to search for an elusive 'green bullet' catalyst that could ultimately provide entirely renewable energy.
Where to install renewable energy in US to achieve greatest benefits
A new Harvard study shows that to achieve the biggest improvements in public health and the greatest benefits from renewable energy, wind turbines should be installed in the Upper Midwest and solar power should be installed in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Croissant making inspires renewable energy solution
The art of croissant making has inspired researchers from Queen Mary University of London to find a solution to a sustainable energy problem.
Are we underestimating the benefits of investing in renewable energy?
Scientists have estimated the emissions intensity of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants from a major electricity distributor and highlighted key consequences - essential information for policymakers shaping decisions to reduce electricity system emissions.
Lighting the path to renewable energy
Professor Mahesh Bandi of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) has co-developed a novel, standardized way of quantifying and comparing these variations in solar power.
How much energy storage costs must fall to reach renewable energy's full potential
The cost of energy storage will be critical in determining how much renewable energy can contribute to the decarbonization of electricity.
Renewable and nonrenewable energy in Myanmar's economic growth
An international group of scientists including a researcher from Ural Federal University developed a mathematical model that describes the influence of regenerative and non-regenerative energy sources on the economic growth of Myanmar.
Shifts to renewable energy can drive up energy poverty, PSU study finds
Efforts to shift away from fossil fuels and replace oil and coal with renewable energy sources can help reduce carbon emissions but do so at the expense of increased inequality, according to a new Portland State University study
Microgrids can help maximize efficiency of renewable energy consumption
A group of Italian researchers has developed a method that enables more efficient use of energy by smart homes that are connected to a microgrid -- a web of individualized units that are connected to one another and one common energy source.
Renewable energy generation with kites and drones
A group of researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid has recently developed a new software aimed at the analysis of energy generation systems based on kites and drones.
More Renewable Energy News and Renewable Energy Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at