First National Congress of German Energy Cooperatives

First National Congress of German Energy Cooperatives

Small generators are uniting

Berlin, 10 October 2012 – Germany’s energy cooperatives will be meeting for the first time in Berlin on 19 November 2012 in order to identify methods of strengthening decentralised energy generation. The event will feature presentations on different models of community involvement – from village and city-based cooperatives of energy generators to municipal utility companies and community grids, as well as the regional utilisation and marketing of self-generated power. Subsequently, there will be a discussion with a high-profile panel that will include Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and four parliamentarians from different parties, among them Josef Göppel of the Christian Social Union (CSU), who put forward the original idea for the event.

The congress aims to bring together the different models of community participation found throughout Germany and establish a network that will give small generators a more effective voice in the debates about the transformation of our energy system.

Germany’s population is actively taking up the opportunities offered by the transformation of energy systems: Since 2005, more than 80,000 citizens have pooled their resources in about 600 energy cooperatives – the most thorough form of community participation, characterised as it is by the principle of equal voting rights for all. In addition to this, there are other forms of engagement in co-operations that will also be presented at the congress. What they all have in common is that they are shaping the transformation of the energy supply at a decentralised level and are keeping the revenue in the region.

This has been made possible by an historic leap forward in development, which is transforming the technological foundations of our lives, and driving us towards decentralisation and small-scale structures: The interplay of new information technologies with renewable energies will allow millions of people to cease being passive energy consumers and become independent players in the economy. The income from energy production will no longer be siphoned off to anonymous shareholders, but will benefit farmers, property owners, craftsmen and the many private individuals who have invested in wind turbines and solar panels, or are installing and maintaining such facilities at the grassroots. This will make diverse patterns of ownership possible across the energy sector, thereby strengthening the middle classes in society.

Solar power is the only kind of renewable energy that can be generated easily in towns and cities, and will permit people to consume the power they produce themselves. Photovoltaic panels do not contain components that suffer mechanical stresses, and the direct provision of supplies to tenants means power does not have to be transmitted via high and ultra high voltage grids.

This will reduce the pressure on landscapes caused by the expansion of power grids. Given that the sun is a freely available energy source, larger areas of roofing in towns and cities could supply energy on conditions that are sustainable in a market economy.

The decentralised transformation of our energy supply will also create a new economic basis for life in rural areas. Young people are again seeing a future in rural communities. The regional provision of energy services will give rise to new urban-rural partnerships, which will reinforce people’s sense of a shared destiny within their regions. For it is only in the countryside that wind and biomass can be exploited, and thus contribute to the stabilisation of our power supply. The output of power from biomass can be adjusted to match demand, and help bridge gaps in production at solar and wind facilities.

All in all, decentralisation will promote greater stability in our power systems. We will no longer be reliant on a handful of large power plants or find ourselves at the mercy of rising costs for raw materials and uncertainties about imports, but will be able to respond to events flexibly and independently. Apart from this, renewable energies will help to make power cheaper over the medium term.

Although renewables demand high levels of initial investment, the principle sources of energy, the wind and the sun, cost nothing. And when energy supply is regionalised, fewer ultra high voltage power lines will be required – something that will cut costs as well.

These aspects make the decentralised provision of renewable energy interesting for developing countries, in particular. As a global pioneer in the reconfiguration of energy systems, Germany has a competitive edge that offers great potential for development aid and foreign trade. At the same time this concept will create fresh chances for rural populations in developing countries and so counteract the formation of new slums. A determined approach to the transformation of our energy supply will therefore enhance the opportunities open to Germany on the world market and secure our economic future.

Organisational note:

The Transformed Energy System – Decentralised and Cooperative
Venue: DZ Bank Building, Pariser Platz 3, Berlin
Date: 19 November 2012, 11:00-19:00 hrs
All energy cooperatives and community energy projects in Germany are invited to attend the congress.
Enquiries and registration:
Eva Henze, tel.: +49 (0)30 227 77380,