Enabling an Alpine-wide energy democracy

Basic information:

Energy crowdfunding in the Alps has the opportunity to create co-benefits in other fields of action.

With the energy transition, new stakeholders have the chance to enter the energy supply sector and to develop investment solutions for energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects. Energy communities are now defined in the Art. 16 of the Directive on the Internal Market for Electricity Directive on “Citizen Energy Communities” and in Art. 22 of the Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources on “Renewable Energy Communities”. Citizens get an opportunity to invest into small-scale energy-solutions and thus to shape the energy transition. Several types of financial participation have been developed on the market:

  • Energy cooperatives: citizens invest in local projects and are directly involved in developing and shaping these projects.[1]
  • Lending-based crowdfunding for RES or EE projects: citizens lend money for investment with fixed return rate.
  • Equity-based crowdfunding (crowdinvest): citizens invest in projects or start-ups and become shareholders. The returns depend on the market-success.

To enable crowdfunding options, several funding platforms have already been set-up by private market players (e.g., BetterVest). These however include projects as developed by these market players, they do not have an Alpine-specific focus and do not enable Alpine citizens to search for investment opportunities in the Alps.

[1] Energieagentur Rheinland-Pfalz GmbH (2016: „Geschäftsmodelle für Bürgerenergie­genossenschaften. Markterfassung und Zukunftsperspektiven.

Sequence of implementation steps:

Review of existing crowdfunding platforms and (green) financing solutions for RES and EE projects (e.g., public-private-(people) partnerships (PPP(P), cooperatives). Review of outputs from existing EU project dealing on the topic, such as Alpgrids (ASP project), Smart village (ASP project).

-> Identify Alpine-specific challenges and needs to further support such solutions in the Alps.

Test solutions for the specific challenges, a set of pilot projects is launched: e.g., to develop energy cooperatives with a link to preserving historic buildings, crowdfunding for investments linked to biogas use, etc.

Recommendations that highlight co-benefits with other fields of action, especially benefits for Alpine ecosystems, mountain agriculture & forestry, etc. are developed.

Investment opportunities in the Alps (including energy cooperatives but also broader crowdfunding options) are integrated in an Alpine-wide platform.

Further Information:

  • Market players involved in crowdfunding platforms
  • Local and regional administrations, private stakeholders, companies, sports clubs, tourism stakeholders, etc. to identify potential projects
  • Regional and national associations of cooperatives
  • Recommendations on innovative financial participation formats, with specific focus on Alpine-specific needs
  • Set-up of an Alpine-wide platform for marketing of investment options in the Alps and communication campaign
  • Implemented pilot projects (to be defined: specify number)
  • Number of pilot projects developed
  • Number of new energy cooperatives developed in the Alps
  • Number of investment projects which are finalized on the Alpine-wide platform for energy crowdfunding
  • Green Economy Action Programme (stock-taking No. 9)
  • Existing platforms and solutions that enable crowdfunding and participation in energy cooperatives
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Considering the sensitive Alpine environment and potential conflicts, a smart coordinated approach to steer the development of renewable energy systems is necessary in the Alps. Also, the development of energy-efficiency solutions needs to be tailor-made in the Alps, e.g. to meet the specific needs in areas with low-population density. To realize ambitious energy savings, the transition towards climate-neutral Alps will also require a change in behavioural patterns, lifestyles and business models which have specific patterns in the Alps that require customized approaches.