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Delegates are invited to meet and discuss with the poster presenters during the poster presentation sessions between 10:30-11:30 and 16:00-17:00 on Thursday, 19 November 2015.

Lead Session Chair:
Stephan Barth, ForWind - Center for Wind Energy Research, Germany
Bruno Claessens APERe asbl, Belgium
Co-authors:

(1) APERe asbl, WATERLOO, Belgium

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Presenter's biography

Biographies are supplied directly by presenters at EWEA 2015 and are published here unedited

After a 20-year career in the banking sector, Mr. Bruno CLAESSENS has been working in the wind energy sector for 7 years. He is Project Manager with APERe, a not-for-profit organization based in Brussels, promoting Renewable Energy and the Rational Use of Energy. He is currently working as senior wind energy expert for the regional government of Wallonia. Mr. Claessens has graduated in Brussels as translator, and has got a master in Treasury management.


Poster

Poster Download poster (6.81 MB)

Abstract

Wallonia sets up an innovative financing mechanism to foster local community engagement in wind farms

Introduction

For a few years now, social acceptance has become a crucial issue in the achievement of wind energy projects. In many parts of Europe, opposition to the development of wind farms has become harsh and well-organized. Consequently, most wind energy projects are systematically appealed and frozen for long periods. Private developers have understood that one of the means to improve social acceptance is to involve the local community and to share social benefits. But to allow co-ownership between private developers and citizens, and sometimes public bodies like municipalities, innovative structures and hence, new financing mechanisms, had to be set up to finance, build or operate a wind farm.

Approach

It is indeed a real challenge for a local community based organization (citizen cooperative) to succeed in collecting the necessary funds in time to purchase a wind turbine or part of a wind farm.
Purchasing a 2.5 MW wind turbine requires to have between 600,000 and 800,000 € equity available, to comply with the banks’ usual requirements.
For the citizen cooperatives which do not succeed in raising such an amount of money in due time, different possibilities exist : partnerships, cash pool, joint venture, crowdfunding, alternative banking institutions.


Main body of abstract

In Wallonia, in order to offer the cooperatives the guarantee to reach the targeted amount of money, the regional authorities have set up, together with a few cooperatives, an underwriter fund, involving both private individuals and public institutions.
How does it work?
The F.E.C. (Fonds Energie Citoyenne) is an investment fund created under the form of a cooperative, funded by citizens who, by purchasing shares, become co-owners of the fund. Three public institutions are partners in the fund, and are likely to be requested to provide additional funding if the results of the fund raising campaign with citizens makes it necessary.
Many cooperatives do not have sufficient financial means to achieve their projects.
When a cooperative is planning to buy a turbine or a share of a wind farm, the objective of the F.E.C. is to provide the cooperative with additional cash under the form of a temporary loan, in order to enable the cooperative to dispose of the necessary funds when time for making the down payments has come. Funds collected from citizen crowdfunding are used in a first stage, then, in a second stage, the public institutions which are partners in the fund can be required to lend additional money if necessary.
In return for the loan granted, the F.E.C. intends to hold a 25% permanent stake in the project of the cooperative. Therefore, by calling upon the F.E.C. to achieve the acquisition of one wind turbine, the cooperative will have the opportunity to become co-owner of 75% of a wind turbine, and the F.E.C. co-owner of the remaining 25%.


Conclusion

Together with other countries like Denmark, Germany and the UK, Wallonia is an important outpost for fostering the engagement of local communities in wind energy projects.


Learning objectives
Through the F.E.C., the citizens of Wallonia and the Walloon authorities, who keep an eye on their 2020 targets and cannot afford to have the development of most wind farms brought to a standstill, hope to see co-ownership projects grow in number in a near future.
And, if possible, to see their innovative model be replicated in other European countries.