Energy cooperative is a joint activity of the community with the main goal of producing, distributing and selling electric energy and heat to its members for their own needs, reducing costs and creating a better living environment.
The goal of creating an energy cooperative at Mõisamaa in Small Footprint community
The goal of creating an energy cooperative in Small Footprint eco-community is to reduce the ecologic footprint of energy consumption, to increase the self-sufficiency of the community in producing and consuming energy and to offer its experiences and knowledge as a learning center to other communities in the field of renewable energy.
Producing energy locally from renewable resources contributes to the economic sustainability of Small footprint community by increasing community’s capabilities of striving for its goals and by wider spreading of sustainable lifestyle. The created renewable energy model will suit smaller communities. In the creation phase the usage of low primary energy and complexity level and easily (on grassroot level) manageable and maintainable technologies was considered.
The idea and challenges of creating an energy cooperative
When Estonian Development Fund announced the energy cooperative mentoring program in 2015, we realized that the range of topics and the direction of the program is aligned with our own plans of producing renewable energy as a cooperative. We joined the program and took part in the organized workshops. We got acquainted with different types of renewable energy and discussed about suitable solutions with mentors, considering the conditions on the site. Our activities of finding the suitable renewable energy solution and planning future training activities was supported by NGO Fund. Read more about the project here.
One challenge was the choice of resources for producing energy. Considering the site, we decided to create a solar park with PV panels for producing electric energy. In the future we will consider combining also other technologies and resources, incl. wind, ground source heat pump, wood gas and bio gas. In choosing the technologies we will also observe the good practices of foreign ecovillages (Tamera, Sieben Linden, Findhorn, etc.).
Another challenge was the legal regulation of energy production. During the legal counseling offered in the mentoring program it became clear that according to Estonian law we can produce energy only for the members and the companies of our community (within our premises). The initial plan to start offering renewable energy to local people and companies around us remains waiting for the needed law changes.
For developing the model for renewable energy and further action plan we received support from NGO Fund in 2015. During the project we created a technological plan and a financial plan for creating a power station with PV-panels. For planning we conducted community involvement seminars and also discussed the legal aspects. We also planned activities of our learning centre that we wish to offer to renewable energy enthusiasts in the future.
The creation of solar park was planned for spring 2016 but it did not realize. We are mapping and predicting energy and heating consumption, focusing on improving the thermal efficiency of buildings. We analyze the possibilities of combining different technologies. We are seeking financing possibilities for building the solar park.
Trainings and workshops
We are planning public renewable energy workshops. We will publish details on our webpage and Facebook page.
Read more about energy cooperatives on the Estonian Development Fund’s webpage on energy cooperatives.