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The first presentation deals with the renaissance of the enterprise organisational form of cooperatives in the energy supply through Renewable Energy Sources (RES), so called Energy Cooperatives.
Therefore its historical roots and original motives are depicted. Subsequently the phenomena of Energy cooperatives in the context of RES is subject to discussion.
Reflection on the historical roots of ccoperatives
The central figure in the origins of cooperatives is Robert Owen, a welsh social reformer and entrepreneur. As early as 1799 he first introduced consumer cooperatives. These cooperatives originally realized the provision and supply of groceries.
In Germany the first cooperative structures appeared around 1846 in the agricultural sector in rural areas. Farmers utter dependency on profitable harvests left them in a vulnerable position to landlords and great land owners. Consequently a cooperative organisation served to overcome this dependency and introduced the concept of subsidarian aid. Farmers conjuction and cooperation empowered them to independently organize credit lending mechanisms, i.e. in order to finance seeds. This for example was the intention of the "Wegebuscher Brotverein". Founded as a friendly society it quickly developed into a cooperative structure.
Similarily, first forms of cooperative organisations emerged in cities and urban areas synchroncally around the year 1847. This is widely connected to Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch who also is believed to have been the driving force in the introduction of a cooperative law and order. With his "Delitzscher Vorschuss-Verein" he organized financing through the emission of stocks and therewith helped to establish subsidarian financial allocation.
This sums up in the first central idea and motivation of ccoperatives which is self-help in times and situations of hardship through an organized and systematic union of peers and peer-groups. In addition frequently suppliers and producers are integrated into the concept.
Some of the main characteristics are:
- local and regional structures
- democratic proncipe, i.e. one vote per stakeholder only
- solidarian accountability
- alternative ownership-structure within a classical corporate structure
Also typical and wide-spread is the support of education in order to break the cycle of dependency and the lack of consciousness about this situation.
Robert Owen saw education as a central concern because he was convinced that "a cooperatives is an union of a special kind, that is for and upmost based on people rather than on capital".
Current Renaissance of Cooperatives in the Form of Energy Cooperatives
Even thought the situation of the energy consumer in the energy supply and market is not comparable to the situation of the proletariat in the 19th century there is nonetheless an utter dependence of the consumer to the energy supplier in order to satisfy basic daily needs and tasks.