The launch event in a nutshell
SeaCoop, the new Belgian cooperative social enterprise for wind turbines in the North Sea, was officially inaugurated on Wednesday 15 June.
Our cooperative, founded by 33 Flemish and Walloon citizens’ cooperatives active in the field of renewable energy (REScoops), was keen to bring together all persons active in the field of renewable energy to celebrate its creation and to further explain its objectives and the means to achieve them.
Some 125 people attended the official launch conference. It was a unique opportunity to bring together the main players in the offshore energy sector and the members of the citizen cooperatives involved in this major project. Also present were academics, members of civil society, the Representation of the European Commission in Belgium, as well as a delegation from the cabinet of the Minister of Energy, Ms. Van der Straeten and the cabinet of the Minister of Energy of the Walloon Region, Mr. Henry.
During this conference, An Stroobandt of the Cabinet of the Minister of Energy explained Belgium’s offshore energy objectives, as well as the desire of the federal government to involve citizens in this. Dirk Holemans of Oikos looked back at the origins and foundations of this “energy democracy in action”. Michel Huart of the ULB explained the role of citizen cooperatives in the energy transition to match decentralised supply and demand. Koen Schoors of Ghent University made a distinction between direct citizen participation and purely financial participation in future offshore wind farms, emphasising the added value of the former.
To conclude the presentations, Philippe Awouters, director of SeaCoop, presented the objectives of the cooperative: to take a 20% interest in the offshore wind farms and distribute the electricity produced there to Belgian households and SMEs via cooperative suppliers COCITER and Ecopower. This short-term supply mechanism by and for citizens aims to ensure a sustainable anchoring of renewable energy in Belgian hands and price stability in the interest of all.
Tom Willems, Chair of SeaCoop, concluded the day by highlighting the success of the launch event, confirming the need for the direction SeaCoop wants to take and motivating us to tackle the following phases:
- Ensuring citizen participation in the next offshore wind farms, on the one hand by proposing adequate mechanisms to be included in the future tender, and on the other hand by meeting actors who will be submitting a bid and thus are potential partners of SeaCoop.
- Developing the resources (balancing tools, financing, etc.) needed to purchase this electricity and supply it to Belgian households and SMEs.
- Considering all possibilities to limit to a minimum the risks to citizens who will participate in this major joint project.
The day in pictures: LINK
Opening conference presentations:
- Update offshore tender – An Stroobandt, Cabinet Minister of Energy Tinne Van der Straeten
- Energy Democracy – Dirk Holemans, Oikos
- Balancing a decentralised and renewable supply with an adapted demand – Michel Huart, ULB
- Belgian Offshore energy from and for everyone: Citizen participation – Koen Schoors, Ghent University
- Citizen participation via Energy Communities in the tender procedure – Philippe Awouters, SeaCoop