English summary

The Lokale Energie Monitor 2021 (Local Energy Monitor) is the seventh edition of the annual development report of the Dutch community energy movement. It charts the growth and development of energy cooperatives and collectives, meaning initiatives of citizens and local businesses working together on the energy transition in their home environment. The aim of the monitor is to provide a comprehensive and fact-based overview of the movement in The Netherlands. The monitor is written in Dutch. For non-Dutch speakers we provide an English summary below.

Citizen led community energy collectives

In 2021 676 energy cooperatives are active in The Netherlands, that’s 6% more than in 2020. The estimated number of members and/or participants of their projects add up to 112.000, an increase of 15%. On average, the number of members of each cooperative is increasing. In 84% of the municipalities (95% of the population) a cooperative is active.

Three quarters of these cooperatives work on all energy issues in their neighbourhood, village of city. They develop collective solar and wind production projects, support other citizens to save energy and upgrade their homes. Or they explore the options heating alternatives to gas such as district heating systems owned by a consumer collective. Often local electricity can be supplied to the members and others by partnering with a (cooperative) energy supplier. The other cooperatives (25% of 676) focus on one specific activity, usually solar rooftop projects, in which people living nearby can participate.

A new type of collective emerging in 2021 is a collective focussing specifically on solar project for housing associations and their tenants. Also, a distinct and notifiable trend this year is the increasing number of regional cooperatives, which are collaborations of local cooperatives joining forces on a regional scale. What all these initiatives have in common is a dedication to join forces and realise shared energy ambitions. 

The Local Energy Monitor 2021 tracks the collective solar and wind projects, heating initiatives and other innovative initiatives.

    zonnepark de groene weuste

     

     

     

     

     

    Zonnepark de Groene Weuste, Duurzame Energie Wierden. Foto: Femke Teusink

    Collective solar

    Nearly three quarters (71%) of all energy cooperatives work on solar projects. In total almost 1000 projects have been realised: to be exact 927 since 2008. In 2021 115 new projects were realised (+45 MWp), leading to an increase of 26% of the total collective solar power realised, which is 271 MWp. This compares to the energy consumption of 65.000 households[1] and amount to 1-2% of the total solar power installed in the Netherlands.

    Most collective projects are installed on rooftops (93%). Due to the fact that land-based projects are much larger, the rooftops add up to 51% the total collective solar power installed, whilst 38% is installed on land and 10% of the solar panels is floating on water. In 2021 13 new land (or water) based solar fields were realised by energy collectives, adding up to a total of 61 projects. These are owned by the cooperatives and their members, and in case of shared ownership, also their partner(s). Local members can participate by investing in these projects.   

    In 2021 the development of collective solar projects appears to stagnate somewhat. In 2020 150 projects were realised, 50 more than in 2021. However, a few hundred projects are planned or are already being built end of 2021 (365 project, 233 MWp). We expect these to be operational in 2022-2023 which would entail a doubling of the installed collective solar power. Even more projects are under construction, likely to be realised in 2023-2024. The large number of pipeline projects suggests that the cooperatives have postponed the actual realization in 2021, awaiting a new subsidy scheme that has come into force in April 2021 (‘Subsidieregeling Coöperatieve Energieopwekking’). 

    Windpark Koningspleij

     

     

     

     

    Windpark Koningspleij. Foto: The Timewriters / Bas Stoffelsen

    Collective wind

    Of all energy cooperatives 84 (12%) work on wind production. The total wind power installed by these cooperatives increased 35% since 2020, which is the largest increase in one year since 2015 (+77 MW in 2021). In total 296 MW collectively owned wind power is operational on land, that’s 5,8% of all land based Dutch wind power[1]. These turbines produce 947 million kWh per year, comparable to the energy consumption of about 315.000 Dutch households.

    Another 75 MW is planned, of which 22 MW is already being built. The owners of 53 other projects are waiting for the High Court (‘Raad van State’) decision about their permits and/or financial close. Six projects are delayed due to juridical issues (Nevele arrest) or increased commodity prices of the wind turbines. Finding new suitable wind locations is a challenge in a densely populated country like The Netherlands. Cooperatives are actively involved in the search for new locations. This involves local dialogue with the citizens living in the area and may result in a decision to stop the further planning process if insufficient local support is gained by the citizens or the municipality to start planning for a specific location or start a permit procedure. 

    The spotlight’s on Limburg this year. One third of the newly installed wind power was realised in this province by the cooperatives Leudal Energie, Peel Energie end Newecoop and their partners. Three new wind parks started production, a fourth in Weert is being built and starts production in 2022. All wind parks were realised in an exceptionally short period. It took less than four years between the initial idea on a drawing board to actual production.   

    warmtenet

    Collective heating

    Citizen initiatives increasingly start to focus on local heating options, as a replacement of gas heating (being the norm in The Netherlands). 150 initiatives are on the monitor’s radar. At least 78 have concrete ideas and plans about new heating system in their neighbourhoods or villages. Mostly these concern plans for district heating systems to be collectively developed and preferably also consumer owned. 24 initiatives have completed the research phase, assessed the feasibility, and progressed to work out a more detailed technical design (18), or have already started to commission contractors (2). Four initiatives have started building a local district heating system, in Drimmelen, Vlieland, Nagele (Noordoostpolder) en Muiderberg (Gooise Meren).

    Most initiatives develop a collective local district heating network based on the supply of medium heat (70/40’C). With heating supplied by heat pumps that draw energy from a nearby lake or other surface water, or a local wastewater treatment units. Solar thermal options are also receiving interest, harvesting solar heat from the rooftops (or land), storing it underground and distributing it during winter. In Vlieland and Nagele this type of solar thermal units are (almost) operational, in Haarlem the contractors are being commissioned and the local houseowners are invited to participate. Other heating sources being explored are heat from drinking water production, biomass, waste heat, soil-based thermal energy systems and four geothermal options. Research is conducted into biogas, hydrogen gas options and combinations of heat pumps and collectively owned solar park.

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    Energy saving

    Many energy cooperatives actively support homeowners and tenants to reduce energy consumption. Information provided by 108 cooperatives (2021) point toward various types of activities: they organise awareness campaigns, provide information and advice homeowners and/or arrange more specialized support to realise specific measures. The trend of trained energy coaches who can provide tailormade advice, started a few years ago and continued in 2021. This despite the Covid restrictions to visit homes or organise meetings. The energy coaches stayed in touch with homeowners and started visiting people again when lockdowns were lifted. New coaches were trained as well.

    The energy cooperatives often partner with their municipality who may have organized an energy information desk with information and advice for citizens. Often the desk is online, sometimes combined with a physical store or a walk-in hour where citizens can get advice and find answers to their questions. At least 13 cooperatives man the information desk themselves, sometimes commissioned by the municipality or as a partner to the municipality.

    The number of such partnerships between cooperatives and municipalities have clearly increased, in part resulting from a national subsidy scheme supporting municipalities in this area (RRE(W) subsidy).

    The cooperatives also work with local partners such as housing associations, local companies, and organisations like Buurkracht (at least nine cooperatives).

    On a national scale local initiatives share experiences and combine forces through membership of the national not for profit cooperative HOOM. It currently has 93 members, all local cooperatives from various regions of The Netherlands. HOOM supports local citizen initiatives and energy cooperatives with trainings, experience sharing and expert sessions. During 2021 866 new energy coaches were trained by HOOM.

    batterij

    Innovation    

    The Local Energy Monitor 2021 highlights some new innovative developments in the sector. Cooperatives work on car sharing schemes with solar carports and collectively owned charging stations. Other innovations include energy storage, water powered electricity production and hydrogen production. Furthermore, there is ongoing experimentation to reduce electricity network congestion. By introducing cable pooling, direct supply to a local hydrogens production or other large consumer in the area.

    Some cooperatives started to explore the options of the various trades market, specifically markets rewarding flexibility services, energy sharing schemes and system integration. The national branch organisation Energie Samen, and the two cooperative energy suppliers are active partners in these developments. The aim is to match local supply and demand and (re)gain local control over the energy systems and secure active participation of citizens in the energy transition and energy markets.    

    More information and downloads

    Go for more information and all the downloads to the Dutch page.

    Lokale Energie Monitor 2021

    The Local Energy Monitor 2021 is a joint publication of klimaatstichting HIER and RVO. The researcher of the project is Anne Marieke Schwencke.