In Luc-sur-Aude, a village just north of the Pyrenees Mountains in France, a community-owned solar field is providing enough electricity to light the entire town.
Thanks to crowdfunding and a community financing scheme, a quarter of the village’s 220 inhabitants have become co-owners (and shareholders) of the solar PV field. It covers 8,000 square meters and has 250KWc of capacity, and began producing electricity in December 2017.
After years of being approached by developers who wanted to build a solar installation in their village, the mayor Jean-Claude Pons decided it would be better to involve local people and do it themselves.
“We realised that each time there was a renewable energy project, the profits were going back to distant shareholders rather than to our own community.”
Jean-Claude Pons (left), mayor of Luc-sur-Aude, on a visit with villagers to the site
So the villagers set about doing it for themselves. 286 people, mostly from the village and surrounding the region, invested in the scheme. Everyone in Luc-sur-Aude got involved in the crowdfunding campaign, even children, who will receive their own dividends when they turn 18. In just under a month, the villagers had raised 275,000 euros towards the scheme.
“It’s just a small-scale solar installation – but it’s by and for the people” said Georges Mounier, who runs the community company in charge of the solar panels.
The new co-owners all have a say in its management, and receive monthly dividends from the solar panels’ energy production.
Now France’s first community-owned solar installation is inspiring other villages and towns nearby to follow suit. Marmagne, a town in the centre of France with 2,000 inhabitants is now aiming to generate all of its own electricity by 2019.
The villagers of Luc-sur-Aude have set a powerful example of how to work at the local level to create a Fossil Free future for themselves and their children.
Inspired by this example? Town by town and village by village, it’s time to repower our communities with clean, renewable energy from the sun, earth, wind and water. Get involved where you live.
This story was first reported on in French by Livia Garrigue in We Demain.