Energia del Prat, the local citizen energy community of the Baix Llobregat municipality, is taking its first steps combining ambition, public-private collaboration and political unanimity. “It will be the largest in the state. There is no city of our size with one”, says the director of Acció Ambiental, Energia i Serveis Urbans of the City Council, Joan Herrera. The ambition is to provide a service to the entire neighborhood and economic fabric of a town of just over 65,000 inhabitants.
The precedent is Aigües del Prat, which already serves the water. His path will be progressive and his beginning will be more discreet. They calculate to supply some 800 residents during the first quarter of next year and in three years they see it as “plausible” to reach “between 10,000 and 15,000 users.” Then they plan to continue growing. These types of communities allow people, entities and companies to organize themselves to generate, consume and store their own energy. It is not for profit, but it is for savings.
The municipality is committed to capturing solar energy in the polygons to supply the urban center
40% of the mixed company is from the City Council, which has initially put 120,000 euros on the table. Another 40% is from individuals and companies that decide to be part of the entity. The remaining 20% is for the user community, which does not have to invest, but receives the service. The municipal plenary approved, with the vote in favor of all the parties, the promotion of the initiative.
“In a context of inflation in the price of electricity, it seemed interesting to me,” explains Marc Quinto, a resident of El Prat who has joined the initiative. The promoters calculate that a citizen can save between 300 and 600 euros per year, depending on the conditions of their home. “That it be clean energy and zero kilometer is important,” adds the 26-year-old.
But for Energia del Prat to be possible, companies also need to join the cause. Local businesses and firms such as the Cooperativa Obrera de Viviendas or Fundesplai are part of the project. Also Lluch Essence, which has been in the Estruch industrial estate for more than 40 years and has 170 employees dedicated to aromas and fragrances. “We have a big debt with the local community”, says one of the owners, Eva Lluch. In this case, they already have solar panels on the roof and they plan to place more at the hands of the City Council. “It is a very disruptive project in Catalonia”, adds another of the owners, Sofía Lluch.
For the initiative to work, the partners will supply themselves with this generated solar energy and contribute what is left over to the community. “We have to go for the biggest roofs”, proposes the deputy mayor of Acció Ambiental, Energia i Serveis Urbans, Quim Bartolomé. The morphology of El Prat, with the urban nucleus surrounded by industrial estates, makes it easier for energy to be transported without tolls.