demonstration projects

Collective power through solar panels

The Flemish cities Ghent and Mechelen organize several demonstration projects on collective renewable energy. In Ghent the project Buurzame Stroom about collective solar panels in several neighborhoods ran until January 2020. In Mechelen, a project about collective renewable energy for vulnerable families in collaboration with social housing companies is running.


Buurzame Stroom

Buurzame Stroom was a bottom-up project, driven by a strong partnership between 2 citizen cooperatives Partago and EnerGent, the Flemish grid operator Fluvius, the city of Ghent and its OSS Energiecentrale, energy provider Ecopower, an NGO Samenlevingsopbouw Gent, and the University of Gent. One of the goals was to install as many solar panels as possible. More than 2500 panel were placed on schools, private homes, apartments, rental homes, and office buildings. Another goal was to specifically focus on vulnerable people (language barrier, limited funds). About 100 panels were installed for them. The final goal was to find solutions to prevent grid overload. Some solutions were digital meters, electric ride sharing, home/company batteries, solar sharing, energy communities, heat pumps, etc. Find the final report in Dutch here.  


Collective renewable energy for vulnerable families

Collective renewable energy, such as solar panels, is not common in the social housing market due to various challenges: financing (third-party financing, a payback model for investors), legal issues (energy reconciliation in rent, building permits, tenant benefits, lease agreement updates), and practical arrangements and communication with tenants. This represents a missed opportunity in combating energy poverty because investing in renewable energy pays off.

This initiative explores potential measures to improve the energy performance of social and private housing inhabited by vulnerable families. In the social housing neighbourhood ‘Otterbeek’, a significant investment has been made. 729 solar panels have been installed on 70 homes. The energy generated is shared with social tenants who cannot afford solar panels on their homes, benefiting both the climate and reducing the energy bills of tenants.

Through the Aster project, solar panels are being gradually installed on homes managed by social housing companies in Flanders, with investments also being made in Mechelen. In total, over 400 households will be provided with solar energy.

Rental properties require a different approach. Therefore, there is a collaboration with the Social Rental Agency and the Pandschap to increase attention to renewable energy and sustainable renovations in these properties.

For private landlords, there is a model contract for solar panels on rental properties, allowing the energy benefit to be shared between the landlord and the tenant, creating a win-win situation for both parties.

LINK to website for Mechelen 
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