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The silent revolution of cooperatives that market renewable electricity in Spain

Since a few years ago the so-called ‘renewable cooperatives’ are proliferating throughout the Spanish territory and they are doing so without hardly making noise. Not all are new, some dating from the early twentieth century when electricity networks did not reach counties with a complicated orography, but others only have one or two years of life.



“Those that are going to meet or have already been a century old are cooperatives that come from electricity distributors prior to liberalization and have been transformed to supply directly,” says  Alfonso GarcĂ­a , of the GoiEner cooperative and president of the newly constituted Union Renovables , “they do not aim to grow exponentially nor will they do so, because they were created for certain communities or towns, but the recent ones look for another objective, to offer an alternative and a new energy model to consumers, and also They are very proactive in finding new partners and customers. ”

The list is getting longer. The pioneer is Som Energia , which was constituted in Gerona, Catalonia, in 2010, as a citizen participation project to change the energy model. The year began the activity of marketing 100% renewable certified electricity and its first renewable generation projects. Eight years later it has some 50,000 members (in 2017 it was 30,000) and more than 80,000 electricity contracts, in addition to owning more than a dozen renewable energy generation plants (photovoltaic, biogas and hydroelectric plants) financed by the partners, or in the process of financing.

It is followed by Goiener , a Basque cooperative that in 2012 emerged from the idea of ​​30 people from a commercial development agency in Goierri (Guipúzcoa).  Only six years later, there are already more than 10,000 members (at the beginning of 2018 they were about 7,600) that consume 100% renewable energy and supply it to municipalities, SMEs, associations and consumers throughout Spain, but especially in the Basque Country and Navarra.

Precisely this cooperative has served as a lever to mobilize many others in different parts of our geography.

In Castilla-La Mancha emerged in 2014 Econactiva  that in just two years has already achieved 200 partners and supply about 1,500 homes. In Castilla y León Megara Energía, a cooperative promoted by Caja Rural de Soria and El Hueco, which in 2015 starts its activity with 50 founding members and three years later, there are 290 cooperative members and more than 550 contracts; and also  EnergÉtica coop. , that in that same year 75 people constitute it. In this last case, his ascent has been meteoric. They have already achieved almost 1,250 cooperative members and more than 1,500 contracts.

In the north of Spain, apart from Goiener, other initiatives have also emerged. This is the case of Nosa Enerxia , in Galicia, which in 2016 was presented in partnership with 167 members, and two years later it is already more than 500. Also in Navarre they have theirs, E + P Cooperativa or Emasp . It emerged three years ago from a company that wanted to reduce the high costs borne by residential centers. They do not have public data about their growth.

And the most inexperienced of all is that of Cantabria. It’s called Solabria and it was established as a marketer in 2017, but it must be very active because in just a few months it has already reached 216 cooperative members.

The Madrileños also have a cooperative of these characteristics. This is La Corriente Coop , which was created in 2015 from a group of people from the Platform for a New Energy Model , inspired by the predecessor cooperatives of the other regions. The most important power supply contract (and partner) is that of the San Fernando Market, but there are more than 100 among SMEs and households.

Finally, in Murcia the cooperative that emerged in 2016 is  La Solar , with 121 members, and that, according to data from January 2019, have increased to 140 members and almost 900 electrical contracts, and in Andalusia, the Zencer cooperative  , which emerged in 2013 Fuengirola (Málaga) with three partners and already has more than 1,500. Apart from its partners, it has signed agreements with municipalities such as Motril (Granada) or Montalbán (Córdoba) and they hope to continue with this growth model.

These non-profit cooperatives have not arisen spontaneously. They have looked at existing models in other European countries but their beginnings have not been easy. Many of them have had to go to crowdfunding systems to get the necessary amount to process the marketing license. They buy electricity in the market directly and among its objectives is to make consumption responsible for consumption.

It has not been easy for them to grow either, but their modus operandi is word of mouth and the talks, conferences or meetings that the members carry out altruistically across the country.

Now they have been organized under the umbrella of Union Renewable ,  the union of consumer cooperatives and users of renewable energy that brings together 19 cooperatives at municipal / regional level, between centenarians (mainly concentrated in the Valencian Community) and the newly born, and total more than 85,000 people.

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