This paper reflects the socio-economic power of renewable energy production cooperatives for a wider energy system transformation in Germany. Energy cooperatives have turned into important supporters of renewable and decentralised energy structures, due to their strong growth since the year 2006, their participation in local renewable energy projects and their democratic awareness. The cooperative form of coordinating local renewable energy projects applies to a decentralised energy system that is managed by many smaller firms - a system concept that is preferred by the majority of German citizens. However, there is not enough knowledge to understand to what extent this organisational form is able to unify a broad group of actors in promoting a renewable energy system (societal power) and to gather capital for elaborating renewable energy supply structures (economic power).
The reflection is based on an empirical assessment of all energy cooperatives that were registered in Germany before 31 December 2013. Their growth dynamic and their business approaches are discussed. A special focus lies on renewable energy production cooperatives. The study presents the development of their members, their capital, their profit and loss, as well as their investment intensity over a timeframe of three years (2010-2012). The socio-economic potential of renewable energy production cooperatives for supporting a renewable energy system is discussed against the background of empirical results.
The Socio-Economic Power of Renewable Energy Production Cooperatives in Germany
Results of an Empirical Assessment
Wuppertal Paper no. 187 (April 2014)