Catalyzing social energy cooperatives in rural Poland

To bring more affordable, renewable energy to people outside major urban centres, the Citizens' Initiative Group/FINE Power Engineering – Civic ENERGY is creating a framework for small-scale social energy cooperatives.

In rural Poland, the risk of energy poverty is much higher than in urban areas. In 2013, 17% to 32% of residents in villages of less than 20 000 were found to be facing energy poverty compared with just 3% to 7% in cities of more than 500 000.

Recognising the potential for small-scale energy as an efficient, affordable solution for people at risk of energy poverty in rural areas, FINE Power Engineering - Civic ENERGY is an incubation model for creating social energy cooperatives. The organisation focuses particularly on those residing in single-family houses, farms, small multi-family homes in small villages, settlements, or districts where individual homes are distant from other settlements.

The concept is based on a real-life example from a neighbouring country: at the end of the 20th century, Germany established 1 000 small energy cooperatives that used solar photovoltaics to produce affordable electricity for local consumption. FINE Power Engineering – Civic Energy aims to launch a model energy community, then create an environment and tools for replicating it wherever there is enough demand and people willing to self-organize.

Citizens' Initiative Group/FINE Power Engineering – Civic ENERGY is one of 15 finalists in the 2019 Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty Program, launched by the Schneider Electric Foundation and Ashoka in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

Photo Credit: Dawid Żuchowicz