How citizens can participate in local energy transition projects
The advantages of citizen participation in renewable energy projects are obvious. Citizen energy creates acceptance, transparency and participation, while also driving innovation and creating jobs. It increases regional value creation, enhances stakeholder diversity in the energy transition and makes particular use of the know-how of locals. Since profit maximisation is not the top priority for many individuals, citizen energy can also leverage potential that might have remained untapped without the financial participation of citizens.
Presently, around one third of the electricity generated from renewable energy in Germany comes from citizen-owned installations. In addition to solar panels on residential buildings, this also includes wind farms, bioenergy plants and large ground-mounted PV systems owned by citizen energy companies. There are already around 100 energy cooperatives and a further 200 citizen energy companies of other legal forms in North Rhine-Westphalia. There is also growing interest among municipal utilities and local authorities in implementing successful energy transition projects with the help of their citizens.
The NRW.Energy4Climate regional agency is available to start-up initiatives, companies, municipal utilities and local authorities as a point of contact for all questions on the topic of citizen energy. It informs and advises interested stakeholders, observes trends and identifies required actions in innovative fields such as crowdfund investing, energy efficiency contracting, joint private consumption and energy sharing. The services offered include initial consultation and knowledge transfer on business models and funding instruments, as well as support and networking to initiate local citizen energy projects.
In the future, workshops, specialist events and online formats are also planned to accompany the individual exchange of knowledge on citizen energy and further improve networking among the stakeholders in North Rhine-Westphalia. Furthermore, NRW.Energy4Climate will also stimulate and accompany national and international communication on civic energy topics.