During the past online events in POTEnT, we saw Sweden’s cogeneration system and entered Vaxjo CHP plant, discovering how fossil-free electricity and thermal energy are produced.
It is now time to move our digital bodies towards the south of Brittany. It would be a mistake to think that the weather in Brittany is kinder than in Sweden. Indeed, our visit on the rooftop of Lorient’s town hall, on which PVs are installed, was cancelled due to the covering snow.
Nevertheless, let’s discover Lorient and its best practice, which surely hides a great POTEntial: this visit demonstrated how powerful a partnership can be, leveraging on the combination of citizens’ empowerment and political will.
On February 9th, Lisa Croyere and Bruno Livory, from ALOEN, the Energy Agency in the south of Brittany, gave a warm welcome to all participants. The focus of the meeting was OnCIMè, an energy company created and fully owned by citizens.
After a quick introduction to the speakers - Jean-Luc Danet, the legal representative of OnCIMè, and Peter Crepeaux, from Lorient municipality - the visit started.
People in Lorient seem to be both idealist and hands-on, and what is certain is that they know what they want. Indeed, they took the free decision to become shareholders by investing in OnCIMè, a company involved in PVs business.
The enterprise was created in 2015 by Lorient’s citizens to play an active role in the energy transition. In the beginning, shareholders were mainly activists belonging to the association ‘’Bretagne Énergies Citoyennes’’. Over time, more and more people kept joining the company enthusiastically.
The initiative, therefore, attracted the attention of the municipality, dealing with climate targets that were considered, at that time, strict and ambitious. Beyond any doubt, an inclusive and open political vision is crucial to ensure the flourishing of this kind of initiatives.
In Lorient’s example, the sum of these two strong forces, joint in one direction, resulted in the partnership between the municipality and OnCIMè in 2016. This gave life to a new crowdfunding scheme.
It began with a regional call to raise citizens’ awareness, which led to the creation of a tender for the installation of solar panels on the town hall’s rooftop. On one hand, the municipality managed to produce 5% of its energy needs through photovoltaic panels for self-consumption. This strategy revealed itself as being cost-effective and cheaper than buying certified green energy.
On the other side, citizens created a local business opportunity to invest in green renewable energy and to generate profit. To wrap up: OnCIMè borrows PVs from the municipality, and the latter pays the rent and manages the maintenance. No grid intervention nor batteries are needed: just will and financial planning.
After the partnership with the municipality of Lorient the company kept creating new projects each year. At the moment, OnCIMè installed more than 500 solar panels, but they are already looking at the future aiming at developing a storage system through the installation of a boiler by 2022.