Here at WeSmart we could talk about energy communities all day long. They’re good for your energy bill, good for the planet and good for your local area. But what does an energy community actually look like in practice? We’ve rounded up some of our favourite energy communities from across Europe, each of which shows an ambitious vision brought to life in a totally unique way.
A Self Sufficient Island in Scotland
If you travel 11 kilometres west from the Scottish mainland you’ll find the island of Eigg, one of the most beautiful islands in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. Home to just 100 locals, Eigg has been rated as Britain’s most eco-friendly island and it’s clear why.
Eigg’s inhabitants have been generating almost 100% of their own electricity for an entire decade but you wouldn’t know it, all the electricity cables are buried underground so as to not harm the views this majestic landscape has to offer.
Prior to the project, the Eigg locals relied on expensive shipments of fossil fuels to be delivered from mainland Scotland. These days, their electricity supply is much cleaner. Eigg’s power supply now comes from three hydroelectric plants, four wind turbines and a network of solar panels. These are supported by a battery bank supplying up to 24 hours of electricity, ensuring steady supply throughout the day.
The project has led to significant cuts in residents’ energy bills and has inspired the commencement of other energy efficiency projects across the island.
A Co-Housing Community in Denmark
Near the city of Roskilde in Denmark lies Svalin, a sustainable co-housing community of 20 households. The community creates their own renewable energy through solar panels and geothermal heat pumps, which are showcased through their unique traffic light system with ‘red’ representing fossil fuel energy sources and ‘green’ representing renewable sources.
Right now, Svalin is energy positive, which means they produce more energy than they consume. The current framework means that any surplus renewable energy produced by households is transferred back to the national grid but residents want to change this. They envision a future where they can share the energy they produce with their neighbours.
“I would love to directly provide my neighbors with the excess solar energy produced from my rooftop. If all doing that, the community may agree about how to compensate each other”
Pierre-Elouan, Svalin resident
Svalin are at the beginning of their journey to becoming a fully fledged renewable energy community but represent the potential that communities have when they band together to democratise their energy production.
A Biomass Community in Finland
The community of Eno have taken a different approach to green energy which all started through the coordination of 12 local forest owners who decided to swap the traditional fossil fuels for a local resource that’s growing in abundance – wood.
What began as a project to heat public buildings through local biomass has now grown to 55 forest owners, owning and operating three heating plants across an 11 kilometre network. Aside from the obvious reduction in fossil fuel consumption, the benefits to the local community are clear. Local forest owners are enjoying an income boost from the sale of energy wood, overly dense forests are thinned to improve the growth of the remaining trees, CO2 emissions are falling and new jobs are being created.
It’s estimated that the project provides the region with around €2 million in economic benefits each year.
A Business Community in Belgium
Housing 40 businesses from across Brussels, Greenbizz.energy is a business incubator with a difference.
Built from entirely sustainable materials, Greenbizz.energy is a new project that’s bringing its sustainability message to life in every way. Inside you’ll find beer brewers, coffee roasters, carpentry companies and more. Each business has a different background and comes from a different industry but is connected by its shared ethos – to create a greener world.
“The Greenbizz.energy project is exemplary for many reasons. It’s the first project in Brussels that brings small companies together within a renewable energy community. It enables its members to benefit from locally produced solar energy.”
Jean-Marc Bryskere, CEO of Greenbizz
Developed by WeSmart in partnership with Greenbizz, Citydev, CSTC and Siblega, Greenbizz.energy has reached a state where it generates more energy than it uses, giving its inhabitants the ultimate flexibility when it comes to their energy consumption.
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