A high degree of selfless motivation shows: Community energy movement still has great potential for social mobilization
The first results of a survey of community energy entities in Germany and Japan show that the shareholders in such projects are predominantly male. In the companies surveyed in North Rhine-Westphalia, the proportion of women among the shareholders is 29%, who hold 27% of the shares. Japanese community energy entities also have a share of women of below 30%. In view of the importance of community energy for a successful, broadly socially anchored energy transformation, these results indicate that the dynamism of the energy transition can be strengthened if more women can be attracted to assume an active role in community energy.
A two-year study, which is carried out jointly by the World Wind Energy Association and the association for renewable energies of North Rhine-Westphalia LEE NRW in cooperation with the Japan Community Power Association, aims to shed light on the gender ratio in community energy.
In the first year of the study, a total of more than 50 community energy entities in Germany and Japan were surveyed in order to get a more precise picture of the shareholders. The first results will be presented to the public today as part of the 5th International Community Wind Symposium and Community Power Forum.
While the overall proportion of women in Germany is less than a third, in half of Japanese companies it is even less than 10%. In both Germany and Japan, it can be seen that larger community energy entities tend to have more women. For Germany it can also be stated that the proportion of women in entities with solar energy projects is on average higher than in pure wind projects.
Women are also under-represented in management: while the boards of German community energy entities comprise of 35% women, almost half of the Japanese community energy entities do not have a single woman in management.
The survey also showed that only a small proportion of the community energy entities – whether in Germany or Japan – have so far started to actively increase the participation of women. However, this is seen as an important connecting factor.
In a second survey, the shareholders were asked about their motivation to participate in the energy transformation in the form of community energy. Here, too, a similar picture emerges: the majority of the people surveyed are older men, often retired, and with a higher level of education. It turns out that not only women, but also people with a migration background or with lower incomes have so far been underrepresented in community energy.
The predominantly altruistic motives of the people surveyed have to be seen as very positive: 90% stated that they were primarily involved in the area of citizen energy in order to make an active contribution to climate protection and the energy transition. Financial motives, on the other hand, play a subordinate role. This selfless motivation is seen as an important starting point to involve even broader sections of the population, especially more women, in the energy transformation and thus to strengthen the community energy movement.
Stefan Gsänger, Secretary General of the WWEA: “Community energy has been a pillar of the energy transition from the start, not just in Germany but in many other countries. The data now available now show us where and how the community energy movement can start to mobilize even broader sections of the population: Above all, women, who dominate the climate movement, should be more involved.”
Madeline Bode, project officer at LEE NRW: “Community energy is an important factor for the acceptance of the energy transformation. In order for the projects to be successful, however, they also have to come from the middle of society and include and depict all citizens. Both the community energy entities and politicians must recognize this and take greater account of this. ”
Krisztina André, member of the board of the German Alliance for Community Energy and member of the project advisory board: “Climate change will affect women more than men. It is precisely for this reason that it is important that the energy transformation remains in the hands of the citizens so that women can simply participate. Unfortunately, the right to use renewable energies is often not yet supported by governments, but access is made more difficult. Energy decentralization is possible, however, if the course is set correctly.”
Tetsunari iida, Executive Director of Japan Community Power Association, Chairperson of Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies: “The low level of women’s participation in community power in Japan, especially in the management level, must be a reflection of the historical and cultural gender gap in Japanese society as a whole. However, the power shift from fossil and nuclear power promoted by “power elite” with male-dominated culture, to community-distributed energy and the diversification of its players is not only inextricably linked politically and culturally. We have experience in Japan that community powers promoted by diverse players, including women, tends to be more successful and sustainable than those by the all-male.”
The full study with the full results will be published in early summer 2021.