Blog 14/12/2023

Working together with Coöperatie Drechtse Energie

The financial picture: part II/II.

Curious about Part I of this series? You can read that one here.

When developing a solar farm, cooperation between the developer and the energy cooperative is very important. Why? Because we are working together toward a goal: creating a livable and sustainable world for tomorrow.

From an energy cooperative, it takes a lot to do that. Knowledge, time and money. Wouter Slob of cooperative Drechtse Energie tells us more about the cooperation between an energy cooperative and developer as well as the financial possibilities for an energy cooperative.

Cooperative Drecht Energy

The Drechtse Energie cooperative was established for and by the residents of the Drechtsteden. The cooperative originates from the cooperative Drechtse Wind, which was established in 2014. In 2018, that became cooperative Drechtse Energie because the cooperative's activities were larger than just wind energy. There are about 500 members, some of them as volunteers who run the cooperative, with a board and under it various working groups for sustainable solutions: large-scale solar projects, wind, storage and heat. The overarching goal of Drechtse Energie is to create local support and financial and social added value for the environment.

Today we speak with Wouter Slob of Drechtse Energie. His role at Drechtse Energie is General Board member with a focus on large-scale solar projects. "We are currently working with Novar on two projects, where we are equal partners in a project." Equality in a partnership means that the energy cooperative and the developer together share the joys and burdens of a project. So both parties invest the same amount of time and cost in a project. For energy cooperatives, this is not always easy. "As an energy cooperative, we have limited knowledge and limited equity," says Wouter. "With a profitable business case, we always try to ask for an own contribution from the cooperative. But even then, financing a project is sometimes still a challenge."

Financial opportunities

Due to limited resources, funding a project for cooperatives is sometimes a challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for energy cooperatives to make an equal partnership succeed. Wouter explains. "Energy Together is an organization that helps energy cooperatives get large energy projects off the ground. In a project where we partnered with Novar, we used Energie Samen's Development Fund. The advantage of this Development Fund is that you only have to repay the loan if a project is actually built. So this Development Fund gives you the opportunity to get financially involved in a project and cooperation very early on." For energy cooperatives, this is beneficial. If an energy cooperative steps into a cooperation early, then the environment also benefits maximally from the future return of the park.

"Ultimately, we have only one goal as a cooperative: to create local support and financial and social value for the area."
Wouter Slob Wouter Slob | General board member Drechtse Energie

Energy Together

Energie Samen is an organization that helps energy cooperatives with fund applications for sustainable projects. For example, a cooperative can borrow development funds from Energie Samen for the preparation of large sustainable projects. However, Energie Samen requires that at least 30% of the total amount be contributed by the cooperative itself. In addition to providing financial support to cooperatives, Energie Samen also serves as a knowledge center and organizes meetings for cooperatives.

How is the collaboration going?

This is the first time that Drechtse Energie is working with a developer to realize a large-scale solar project. So in the beginning it was also a bit of a test run. Wouter explains. "In the beginning we faced a small start-up problem. This was mainly about a piece of equality and the cooperation agreement. Fortunately, we worked that out together."

"It is clear that sometimes an energy cooperative has different interests than a developer. In a cooperation, it is important that both parties recognize and acknowledge that. Also, trust is very important. Because an energy cooperative does not have all the substantive knowledge, you have to trust that a developer will choose the right solution. A cooperative has other strengths and areas of expertise. For example, the cooperation agreement states that we as a cooperative are an active link between local residents and the developer. In this way we hope to create more support for a project. Ultimately, that is also the goal we are going for as Drechtse Energie: creating local support and financial and social value for the neighborhood."

Developing a large-scale solar project as an energy cooperative is no small feat. We can help you. Want to know more? Contact one of our experts.

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