The case study examines UR BEROA, a cooperative providing energy to the Bera Bera neighbourhood in San Sebastian, Spain. The cooperative was founded in 1985 to provide hot water and community heating to the residents and improve the energy efficiency of the neighbourhood. Since its establishment, the cooperative has successfully introduced cleaner energy sources and ways to measure the energy consumption of each household. Now, the cooperative is slowly making its way toward decarbonisation.
Bera Bera’s residents will further use and share the energy they produce
UR BEROA is currently made up of 510 members and it supplies its services through district heating based on a cogeneration system. The facilities consist of three natural gas boilers, a cogeneration engine, a biomass boiler, and solar panels that generate hot water. The cooperative aims to significantly grow its member base, increase the energy services it provides, and implement collective RES-based self-consumption. These operations will require introducing strong collaboration with both existing and new actors (the city council, service providers, retailers, and citizen associations).
We will study how residents adopt new sustainable energy practices
Since Bera Bera is a fairly educated and wealthy neighbourhood, we are interested to find out how social and economical factors influence energy citizenship. In the case study, we will analyse what are the motivations and drivers of the cooperatives’ members for participation. We will do this through different research activities, such as in-depth interviews, workshops, focus groups, and different engagement activities designed ad-hoc for the case study. We will also address the influence of the regulatory framework on fostering or hindering energy citizenship, and the relevance of educating and empowering citizens on sustainable energy behaviours.
The goal of the cooperative is to drive the shift towards a higher level of decarbonisation. The current residents are already very energy-aware, but we wish to see residents actively involved in sustainable energy actions. In addition, the cooperative will be facing various challenges in the next 15-20 years. Some of these involve the introduction of new activities linked directly or indirectly with energy, such as new electric mobility services in the neighbourhood and self-consumption projects. Another challenge is presented by the cooperative needing to address generational renewal. UR BEROA, created 40 years ago, is largely led by its founding members. New generations and residents have the challenge of sustaining the cooperative and increasing the energy awareness and engagement of its members. We will also seek collaboration and support from other actors, particularly local and regional authorities and energy agencies, who will play a key role in building the path towards decarbonising UR BEROA. The case study is led by Tecnalia.