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D for DEMOCRACY: an energy system where benefits and decisions are shared

Our energy future should not be in the hands of government and industry alone. We are all part of the solution. Citizens, city councils, SMEs and NGOs becoming energy planners, producers, consumers and decision-makers – this is what energy democracy is all about.

Get the facts


The energy transition is about switching to renewable fuels and resources to heat our homes differently, live in pleasant and healthy cities and power our economies sustainably. Beyond that switch lies a story of exciting, endless opportunities ! It all starts with breaking free from the idea of a few big companies holding the fossil and fissile power. And it means moving to a system where technology and infrastructure options become more diverse and affordable.
So does the number of people that eventually benefit from it. Having much more players around the decision-making table, might sound more complex at first sight. But it is a great opportunity to make sure the transition is fair and beneficial to the majority. This requires indeed new ways of doing and a powerful energy democracy. How often, in the past, did we see citizens rebelling against energy infrastructure plans such as not-in-my-backyard campaigns against wind turbine installations or electricity transmission infrastructure ?
How often did this result in delayed or uncompleted projects across Europe, with incremental costs for the society at large ? Making sure ownership and planning decisions are taken democratically at the right level makes energy infrastructure more profitable for everybody and viable in the long run.

Follow the lead

Cities all over the world have started testing more collaborative processes to underpin this radically different energy system. They are taking measures ranging from :

  • Supporting the creation of community-led energy cooperatives
  • Allowing citizens to participate as investors and planners into municipal energy infrastructure and projects. Involving local stakeholders in co-planning their cities’ energy future via permanent transition boards and forums
  • Encouraging citizens to move from a passive consumers to a consumption manager, either by providing energy efficiency advice or helping them choose their energy supplier
  • Developing partnerships on resource-sharing and knowledge transfer with neighbouring regions and hinterlands to foster territorial cohesion
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Energy democracy across cities

A new, more participatory energy system managed by many, including citizens and local authorities, will not happen through market forces alone. It requires the right incentives and an enabling regulatory framework.

However, European and national legislation still pose hurdles to cities’ and communities’ ambitions.
Change the game => Energy democracy and EU legislation

©photo : shutterstock / stephen silver commons.wikimedia

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Sustainable City Network (GR) Greece | CEDEF-Central European Development Forum (RS) Serbia | Albertville France | Union of Communities of Armenia (AM) Armenia | Agencia de Energia & Ambiente da Arrabida - Energy agency Portugal
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