BEG-58 citizens’ energy cooperative

A bottom-up approach for the energy transition

Nowadays, energy cooperatives under private ownership already rank among the largest group of owners of installed renewable energy capacity in Germany and therefore play a key role in the energy transition. This also applies to the BEG-58 cooperative in Wetter in the Ruhr Valley. It is one of the largest energy cooperatives in North Rhine-Westphalia; it was initiated privately and is supported by volunteers. The cooperative takes on a pioneering role with its work. It adopts new, relatively unestablished concepts for energy cooperatives and tackles the challenges that these involve. At the same time, BEG-58 is constantly expanding its capacity.

BEG-58 was founded in 2010 by a group of environmentally conscious citizens who support sustainable, regional and decentralised power generating plants. Their goal was, and still is, to make an active contribution to climate protection in collaboration with local citizens in the region. The focus is on ensuring an eco-friendly, socially equitable and also cost-effective power supply based on democratic structures and on generating energy from renewable sources. To this end, the cooperative installs and operates renewable energy facilities – mainly photovoltaic (PV) installations – on the roofs of public buildings or apartment blocks owned by housing associations. In addition, BEG-58 provides consultation services for other cooperatives in order to further advance the energy transition. In spite of difficult conditions, BEG-58 intends to continue promoting this energy transition driven by citizens and to further expand its capacity in the field of renewable energy.

Climate protection objective:

  • Continuous expansion of renewable energy capacity
  • Development of the “Gemeinschaftsstiftung BürgerEnergie” (citizens’ energy community foundation)

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Photo: BEG-58

A small party is held for the active members and their partners in the form of a cosy get-together once a year. Accompanied by organic food and drinks in the relaxed setting of the Allerwelthaus cultural centre in Hagen, a good atmosphere is generated through the exchange of ideas with like-minded people.

Citizen’s energy on a grand scale

As a major driving force behind the energy transition, citizens’ energy cooperatives not only organise funding and identify suitable sites, but they also enhance social acceptance for renewable energy. BEG-58 does this in a specific setting. It maintains and operates the most PV installations in North Rhine-Westphalia – a total of 102 photovoltaic (PV) installations with a capacity of 3.1 megawatt-peak. This corresponds to the annual electricity consumption of more than 800 households. It was thus possible to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 1,750 tonnes in 2018, in comparison to the average electricity mix.

Continuous content-related development

The expertise of BEG-58 is focused in particular on the area of PV technology. The cooperative has been closely following the topic of “tenant power”; for example, it has created its own “solar power facility passport” and implemented its own affordable monitoring process for PV plants with its “solar watcher” system. By founding the “Gemeinschaftsstiftung BürgerEnergie” (citizens’ energy community foundation), the cooperative has also created a way of safeguarding cooperative shares for the long term. In view of the age structure of many energy cooperatives, this is a particularly important step in order to ensure that the shares remain permanently in the hands of the citizens. As a company certified by the Economy for the Common Good movement, the cooperative is taking a pioneering role in the transformation of our economic system, smoothing the way towards greater price justice.

Photo: BEG-58

"I am committed to working with BEG-58, because I consider global warming to be by far the greatest challenge that mankind has ever faced. I would like to make whatever contribution I can towards overcoming this challenge."

Rolf Weber, Director of BEG-58 citizens’ energy cooperative