A wind of change is blowing over renewable energies! For several years, ENGIE has been relying on crowdfunding for its wind farm projects. The aim is to be closer to the regions and local inhabitants. The Group is now putting this winning policy into operation in Belgium. Backed up by some of the numbers, we take a closer look at this new collective approach to energy.
Participative financing (or crowdfunding) is first and foremost a way of giving individuals the opportunity to take part in ambitious projects and to have a stake in their construction. Through cooperative wind projects, the ENGIE Group not only enables communities to benefit from locally produced clean energy, it also allows them the chance to make their voices heard and to be rewarded for their involvement.
In Belgium, the Electrabel CoGreen cooperative, established in 2013, now has a total of 17 wind farms and 1,583 shareholders, all of whom have jointly invested to help make their region a pioneering territory in renewable energy. Success has been on the scale of the ambitions, to say the least. Today, 121 megawatts of energy are produced by 53 wind turbines. This corresponds to the consumption of 81,000 households and avoids the emission of approximately 128,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
This success is only a beginning: in spring 2017, two new wind farms are planned in Wallonia and in Flanders.
Acting responsibly with regard to energy means undertaking to reduce carbon emissions on both a national and international level, of course. But it also means being capable of involving local authorities in the energy transition in their regions, working closely with inhabitants and local players to supply reliable local power with less environmental impact.
Because this aspect is essential, ENGIE Electrabel joined forces with the town of Modave in late 2016, for the construction of a wind farm open to a wide range of investors: individuals, municipal councils, local residents, etc. The project consists in the installation of 5 new wind turbines of 3.2 megawatts each in Modave. One of these will be entirely owned and operated by the municipality and its inhabitants, while the other four will be handed over to Wind4Wallonia, a partnership between Walloon inter-municipal authorities and ENGIE Electrabel. Construction work will begin in mid-2017 and the wind farm will be commissioned in mid-2018.
This novel form of partnership will enable public and private investors to share a common agenda of providing residents of the Wallonia region with 100% carbon-free local energy. When it is commissioned, the Modave wind farm will cover the consumption of around 10,000 households, roughly ten times the number of households in the town itself.
And all this is achieved with a irreproachable carbon footprint: more than 15,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be avoided annually.