Good Energy Festival
From May 5th to 7th in Zagreb, the Good Energy Festival gathered the largest number of experts, local initiatives, organizations, and representatives of cities so far, who have a common passion for community energy. And we are amongst them!
More than a hundred participants from Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Serbia, Greece, France, Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany shared their experiences and knowledge on how and why to establish local energy communities, as well as how to ensure citizen participation in an energy sector that is democratic, fair, sustainable, independent of energy imports and powered by local renewable sources.
“The same conversations you are having here today we have had in the Netherlands about seven years ago. You will surely succeed in solving them faster because you can learn from us. We thought we were too small to succeed, but it turned out we were not!” – said Siward Zomer, an expert from the Dutch association of energy cooperatives Energie Samen and one of the two keynote speakers who opened the festival. Siward has been involved in creating revolutionary conditions for community energy in the Netherlands, which includes the non-binding goal of 50% of energy being owned by the local communities. – “The key thing we need is sharing knowledge, capital, and legal framework. In our country, local administrative units that decide on the issuance of permits are very important. The level of support from the local government and a structured approach to building energy communities are just as important as the support of citizens.”
Our second keynote speaker was Dirk Vansintjan, the founder of Belgium’s first energy cooperative Ecopower, which provides electricity to its members at a 30% lower price in comparison to the market prices. Dirk is also the president of the European federation of energy cooperatives REScoop.eu, which is one of the leaders of the community energy movement in Europe. “The REScoop’s statute was updated three years ago in Zagreb at one of the previous Good Energy events, to emphasize the abundance of fossil fuels and nuclear energy, encourage access to energy as a basic human right, and development of democratic and decentralized energy management through the cooperative model based on civic responsibility. – Dirk reminded us – “We must use energy very efficiently and in solidarity to find a new balance between rural and urban areas. Every inhabitant of Europe must have the opportunity to participate in that process, and the best argument for developing energy cooperatives is that they ensure the money and the generated value remain local – in the community.” REScoop brings together more than 1.25 million citizens and 1900 European renewable energy cooperatives.
Four panels and 25 speakers
The festival program also included four interesting panel sessions with a total of 25 local and foreign speakers discussing various challenges and administrative barriers in the field of community energy, especially in the light of solarization. From this diverse content, one of the most important messages was brought by Mario Rajn, the Mayor of the Croatian city Križevci, directed to other mayors in Croatia. Rajn has pointed out that he would like to see more of them at events such as the Good Energy, so the energy transition at the local levels starts faster and easier. Prof. Neven Duić from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture of the University of Zagreb highlighted that Croatia could produce one-third of the total required electricity from its rooftops.
Taking into account the data shared by Dušan Gvozdič from the Cooperative of Solar Power Plants of Slovenia, which says Slovenia’s 350 MW of capacities on solar rooftops equals the capacity of the Slovenian part of the NPP Krško, the Green Energy Cooperative does not doubt that more ambitious solarization is possible and necessary in Croatia. At the same time, citizens and local communities mustn’t be neglected in the process, they must be guaranteed equal access to markets and capital, and participation in the public procurement, which is under the authority of the local and central governments. Our aim has been well summarized by Siward Zomer, who has ended his presentation with the following words:
“In fifty or hundred years ahead, I want our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to say: we cannot imagine not being owners of our local solar power plants because we have been doing so for the last fifty years!”
Sugar in the end – Solar Cinema on Dolac and Solar Tour of ZAgreb
Part of the Good Energy program were also solar-powered movie screenings at Zagreb’s Dolac market and a tour of Zagreb’s solar-powered households, whose owners shared personal experiences with using solar energy.
If you missed the festival, you can quickly grab the most interesting moments on thematic radio show about people and climate called “Čuvarkuća” on radio yammat.fm that was aired on Sunday May 8th. You can find it available on Mixcloud here. And you can follow Čuvarkuća every second Sunday as each time she brings new interesting topics and stories that will inspire you to spread Good Energy every day!
The Good Energy is an annual event dedicated to community energy organized by the Green Energy Cooperative. The CE Delft estimates that over 12 million people in the European Union produce their own energy, which could grow up to 50% by 2050. Community energy is clean energy that comes from renewable sources and is owned or co-owned by the citizens, for example, by installing our solar power plants or by associating with fellow citizens through community energy initiatives. Such energy helps in the development of local communities and building resilience to the crises in the energy sector.
The festival was organized under the auspices of the City of Zagreb, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, and the President of the Republic of Croatia, and in partnership with the European federation of energy cooperatives REScoop.eu and the Covenant of Mayors – Europe.
A full list of partners and supporters can be found here https://dobraenergija.zez.coop/en/supporters/
A big thank you all and see you next time!