Delfshaven Energie Coöperatie

Delfshaven Energie Coöperatie strives to make sustainable energy accessible to all inhabitants of the neighbourhood Bospolder Tussendijken. The first two cooperative sunroofs are currently being realised. Under the name Lokalelektriciteit they collaborate with CoRenew to extract more value from the locally generated electricity.

Lokalelektriciteit is an initiative of Delshaven Energie Coöperatie (DEC), a cooperation for and by residents. DEC was fouded in 2019, with the purpose of giving substance to the energy transition in the neighbourhood Bospolder Tussendijk. A neighbourhood that is vulnerable but resilient. In the 80s and the 90s Bospolder Tussendijk was known as the Wild West of Rotterdam, with many buildings with boarded up windows and much drug-related criminality. Current residents are doing their best to recover from that image.

Investments based on needs

Energie van Rotterdam, the platform of energy cooperation’s in the city, has recently expressed the ambition to develop 90 collective sunroofs spread out over different neighbourhoods. In Delfshaven, every resident can become a member of DEC and as such make use of sustainable energy, even without an own roof for solar panels or investment possibilities. The solar panels are pre-funded by the cooperation. “Residents can profit instantly from sustainable energy, without having to invest”, explains Robbert de Vrieze, societal designer and chairman of DEC. “Those who do wish to invest can also support our projects through crowd-funding.”

The cooperation is currently realising two sunroofs on school buildings, and the third is on the way. “The electricity these roofs generate is used locally as much as possible. In this way, we reduce the transportation-loss and increase the involvement among residents.” A complex network of smart batteries and smart meters will help the cooperation determine how the energy is best used locally. Options include electric local buses, shareable electric bicycles or other initiatives that add local value.

Stronger together

DEC embraces the principle of ‘Asset Based Community Development’, an approach based on utilising the physical, social, cultural, and financial capital of the neighbourhood. “We attempt to aid residents developing their socio-economic resilience” so explains Robbert. Every member of the cooperation shares in the profit and invests in a neighbourhood-fund. “The initiative strives for social innovation to increase the collective earning capacity of the neighbourhood. “If we make use of the energy in a smart way it will offer possibilities to everyone involved.”

By keeping it local, it is the residents themselves who profit the most. Honest energy for an honest price without additional costs. “Together we form an enterprise, and the profit is for the neighbourhood. This means we can save and invest collectively, which has a positive impact on decreasing inequality.” All 140 members can co-decide on how to invest the money.

If this plan proves fruitful, the principle of Lokaelektriciteit can also be applied to other sunroofs in Rotterdam. Notably, Robbert stresses there is also a lot to gain in an ethical sense: “We must move towards a more societal economy.” Energy cooperation can contribute to that. Robbert: “Besides its added value to the climate the initiative also enables ‘community building’, which in turn creates socio-economic resilience.”