The energy sector in the social economy

The centralized nature of fossil fuels and the distributed nature of renewable energy sources;

New jobs in the energy sector

The acceleration of the energy transition and new jobs

The energy communities – energy cooperatives

Low energy costs and local energy self-sufficiency

The energy sector is the most critical in the economy and can lead to the energy war that Europe is currently experiencing, but also the most promising as the prospect of renewable energy sources can liberate us energetically, from the scarcity of fossil fuels, with energy source the abundance of the sun.

The centralized nature of fossil fuels that defined the first and second industrial revolutions is the main cause of the rapid growth in the last two centuries, but also the cause of the global inequality between wealth and poverty. It is clear that energy poverty, in large regions of globalization, also leads to an increase in unemployment, which is not only addressed by vocational training seminars.

On the other hand, the new technologies in energy and the distributed character of renewable energy sources, as a technological possibility, of decentralized production, by local businesses and consumers is coming to change the paradigmatic model and from centralized to make it horizontally participatory. This process in the end means a huge reduction in energy costs for businesses and households, as they generate their own energy for themselves. But according to experts, it will take at least 30 years for the energy transition to reach production from renewable energy sources above 50%, as it is currently between 20% and 30% in Europe.

 But the transition is not only in the hands of the financial elites, the big companies of energy producers and traders, but also in the hands of the decentralized societies that can take initiatives of local energy production, from the open sources of access and accelerate the transition processes. The institutional tool in this process is the social cooperatives, (energy communities).

 It is about the democratization of energy and at the same time the involvement and employment of larger sections of the population in the entire production process. Securing more jobs.

New job positions

According to a report by the IMF, energy efficiency from a transition to renewable energy sources is projected to increase by about 2% of global GDP and create 30 million new jobs due to the greater labor intensity of renewables than fossil fuels. A fact that is also recognized by other international organizations.

There is a theoretical and practical foundation that the decentralized model of production process that yields more jobs than the centralized model of production. At the expense of global competitiveness while decentralization and local self-sufficiency lends itself to work intensity. This is not in the interest of large profit-making companies that want to keep labor costs down, but in the interests of the wider social strata that seek first and foremost a livelihood income. It also benefits society and the economy as a whole as there are no unemployed members and they are able to consume and in this way contribute to the general well-being.

 Decentralized energy production does not mean that one is against robotics and artificial intelligence that save jobs for centralized industrial production, among other things, reducing costs for consumers. It means that it is also desirable to have self-production capabilities in the critical areas of livelihood which are energy, nutrition and health services, to balance the economic system and democratize the distribution of resources.

The self-production of energy is somewhat similar to the process like in the feudal era when everyone, usually a peasant, took care of cutting and transporting from the forest alone the firewood to his house for the energy he needed. At that time, of course, the population of the earth did not exceed one billion. Today with the population that the Earth has, if we were to go back to the feudal era, everything would freeze. However, new technologies also in the field of energy allow us to receive unlimited energy from the sun and distribute it equally for all. The transformation of this energy into electricity and liquid fuels such as hydrogen also creates the additional jobs that are necessary.

What is preventing the acceleration of the energy transition?

Cheap natural gas, the low cost of its production due to the minimal labor costs needed to produce it, and the super profits of the big companies monopolizing its distribution, was the incentive for these companies to invest in natural gas and fossil fuels and the disincentive and not to invest more in renewables. But now that their price has increased tenfold with the energy war and the short-sighted and one-sided investment in fossil fuels, whose only rationale was unbridled speculation, has been revealed, the facts have changed.

It was revealed that the government energy subsidies, which are huge, were not directed sufficiently towards renewables and the distributed energy of small producers and Cooperatives, resulting in the delay of the transition.

Where there are exceptions there are also miraculous results through energy cooperatives. Thousands of electricity and green energy cooperatives are springing up in communities around the world, laying the foundation for a community benefit and sharing of electricity through regional and local distribution networks.

Electricity consumers instead of investing in the stock market with completely uncertain results, invest in energy cooperatives ensuring a very low cost of the energy they consume.

 In Germany, Green Energy cooperatives are growing rapidly and contribute to renewable energy sources approaching 30%. Apparently Germany today could have overcome the energy crisis if the supply from renewable sources was closer to 50%. Denmark is at the forefront of renewable energy and co-production and is much less affected by the energy crisis.

The United States, which has a strong tradition of rural electric cooperatives, has set a goal of producing 25% of its members’ electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

 Is this enough to avoid the energy crisis? Obviously not as fossil fuel and electricity prices are skyrocketing there as well even though America is considered fossil fuel self sufficient.

Soft forms of energy from the sun and wind are not yet developed to such an extent that they could replace the energy deficit. Experts say it will take at least another decade of transition from fossil fuels to green energy to tackle the problem.

Therefore, the global energy crisis teaches us practically that it is necessary to accelerate the processes of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources through the mobilization of businesses and consumers for energy cooperatives to fight energy poverty.

The energy communities – energy cooperatives

Energy communities are exclusive purpose local urban cooperatives through which primarily citizens (either as natural or legal persons) can be active in the energy sector, exploiting clean energy sources. The new institutional framework ensures favorable conditions for the establishment and operation of energy communities, with the aim of strengthening not only individual / family incomes, but also local entrepreneurship, the solidarity economy and the promotion of energy democracy.

The social economy as a system is a necessary condition in order to realize this goal with citizen synergies to ensure a sustainable energy system for all social groups inclusively and to tackle energy poverty.

Municipalities, their legal entities and citizens can participate in these Cooperatives jointly or separately.

The installation of photovoltaics can be done on roofs as well as photovoltaic parks.

From information we gathered for Greece, the investment for each household varies between 2,000 and 3,000 E. and the return benefit is around 15% per year. So capital payback in less than 5 years.

Practically, a related investment can ensure energy self-sufficiency in municipal buildings and schools, but also become a living example to organize citizens in cooperative energy production to save significant resources for each household.

Civil Society, ecological, cultural, consumer and humanitarian organizations can play an important and decisive role in mobilizing citizens as they have the

The mobilization of processes from below for the production of energy from alternative sources is offered for the first time in history as the large multinational companies (oil companies) become a brake on the spread of new technologies of energy sharing and knowledge. They obviously don’t want to lose their super profits from a new cost-minimizing energy industry. Therefore, a political issue arises for local communities to defend the social benefit against those who prevent the diffusion of technological innovations and distributed energy. Energy is too serious a business for the future of society and the Planet due to climate change to be left in the hands of the big multinationals who insist on holding humanity hostage to fossil fuels.

Low energy costs and local energy self-sufficiency

In the long term, the outlook for renewable energy sources remains positive and is characterized by steady growth across all sectors and a reduction in energy costs. Between now and 2040, research and analysis show that:

• Total demand will increase by over 30%.

• By 2050, Renewable Energy Sources will constitute approximately 56% of the total energy potential.

• “Developing” countries will build 3 times more Renewables capacity than “Developed” countries.

• Penetration of Renewable Energy Sources will double reaching 46% of total electricity production.

• The cost of Wind energy will decrease by 32% while that of Solar energy by 48%.

• Solar energy will account for more than 1/3 of the global increase in Energy potential.

A general campaign is needed by civil society organizations and consumer organizations, and cooperatives in collaboration with local government to accelerate participation in energy cooperatives with Tools¨:

One (1) Technical Study which will determine the technical procedures, tasks and methodology of implementing the plan with specific dimensions and measurements, conditions and distribution of the project, for the service of each member. The procedures for the supply of installation materials. The amount of energy that will be produced and distributed to the beneficiaries.

One (1) Manual, based on the exemplary model (PV Park) that will be formed, will function as a tool for the use and dissemination of the practical implementation of the Energy Communities. It will also function as a communication tool of the incentives and advantages that exist for Energy Cooperatives. And finally to function as a mechanism for the implementation and application of the exemplary model, for the creation of businesses by organized consumers, by collectives.

When the financial leverage of the market is objectively absent, as is the case after the prolonged crisis, at least a policy of leveraging inactive resources and social capital is required, as well as synergies with large social collectives and Local Government. This role of leveraging institutional demand can be played by large Consumer organizations, trade unions, ecological and cultural Associations. The distinct and distinguished role of social enterprises supported by social collectives is to transform inactive material and human resources into energy of productivity and economic action.

The Manual and the Technical study will be distributed to all Municipalities that have not yet started relevant procedures and initiatives for this purpose will be supported.

The social impact of this action is expected to be very significant as a pan-European mobilization is necessary.

Footnote: The vigilance of society on the issue of energy is of capital importance. Starting the mental journey from the Promethean fire, reaching electromagnetism and the infinite satellite radio frequencies in our mobiles, we must reflect.

“Energy” in all its forms is a source of life originating from the life-giving Sun. Energy is food and every movement, energy and knowledge. That is why it must be distributed to everyone.Einstein, at the level of physics with his well-known equation E=mc2, proved that everything in nature is energy. Correspondingly, at the level of the economy, energy determines all development. New technologies and forms of energy had a decisive effect on all phases of the first, second and third industrial revolutions.