Som Energia (we are energy, in English) was started in 2011 when a group of people linked to the University of Gerona (Spain) decided to challenge the current energy model and create a real alternative, a Spanish based energy cooperative. In this model, home owners are members of the non-profit cooperative that provides affordable and 100% clean energy electricity. Som Energia took as example similar and successful cooperative models from the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.
Renewable energy in Spain is not hugely developed and the majority of these initiatives are big-scale projects from a few big enterprises. Som Energia decided not to wait for the government promotion of renewal energies and to prove that the local scale development of clean energies is efficient and helps to widen sustainability awareness inside the community. In less than two years of existence, Som Energia has already gathered 6.144 members creating a huge network all over Spain.
The aim of Som Energia is to be a non-profit cooperative that unites thousands of people interested in changing the energy model and working together in order to achieve a 100% renewable model. To become a member and co-owner of the cooperative you have to register and pay a one-off returnable deposit of 100€. The cooperative system is meant to let all members participate and it functions under the principle of one person, one vote. Som Energia also promotes green jobs in local communities and tries to disseminate a new energy culture. The majority of their energy production projects are financed by little contributions of the members in order to be autonomous and be able to choose with which partners they want to cooperate with.
Som Energia started selling green energy from existing sources in October 2011. Its energy is bought from the market and sold to their members. This allows them to use affordable eco-electricity in their homes – while playing a part in transforming Spain into a sustainable and environmentally-friendly place to live in. No changes are required to how the electricity enters the home. Som Energia simply arranges for the administrative changes that are necessary to ensure the energy received is from a renewable source.
Meanwhile, they are also developing their own cost-effective renewable energy projects to produce energy for their members. Som Energia is developing small-scale projects (owned by all members) to produce energy in the biogas, photovoltaic, wind and biomass sectors. These projects aim to be able to cover fully the energy demands of the member.
Som Energia is not just a provider or producer of clean energy, the ambition of this cooperative is also to build a wide social movement supporting renewables and public participation. The human component has been very important in this project, the huge level of implication of the members has helped in building a community committed to fighting for real alternatives. All members can take part in the cooperative working groups (commercialisation, diffusion, projects, education…) and also be active in the local working groups distributed around all the country.
At the same time, Som Energia also promotes measures for energy saving and reasonable consumption among their members and beyond. The cooperative organises conferences, debates and regular meetings around the country to engage and raise awareness about sustainable energy. In 2012 the cooperative also launched the first “September Meeting” a 3-day course on energy transition.