Community Renewable Energy in the Global South: Wind Power, People Power: The
● Presentation will explore: community energy as a concept, The Yansa Group’s work and
discussion of how Yansa’s model is similar to, but also different from, the co-operative
SLIDE 3: Things to Consider-
In groups ask if people can think about & write on post-its: (10 mins max. 3pm)
● What is a community? How can we define it?
-Socio-political group with close geographical proximity/ a local society with historical
links/ a group of people with a common culture or shared interest/ a group of people who
work in the same location/ a locale/ a group who do an activity together/ the likely
possibility of a group of people communicating with each other all in one place or time
(internet). A group of people managing a common pool resource.
● What might impact a community’s ‘development’?
-Previous developments and contact with other cultures. Natural resources that local
people may have on their land. Rate of and knowledge of technological progress.
Recognition by the governing body. Socio-political and socio-economic situation of the
people. Do they have sovereignty of their land? Climate and terrain. Colonialism.
Language. Decision making processes. Liaisons with foreign developers. Local rivalries.
● Should a co-operative have localised ownership and financing?
-Ownership- yes preferably. Financing- not necessarily- increased capital can be
raised through grants, loans, subsidies and investors.
Should a co-operative be more than just one member, one vote?
● Why is community energyin the Global South important? (Climate Justice/debt,
empowering disadvantaged communities, control & choice over fundamental energy
needs, tackling climate change.)
- -Climate Justice- Acknowledges that climate change solutions should not only be
concerned with purely environmental issues, but should aim to address social aspects
that involve communities in the Global South most affected by changing weather
patterns and climate disasters. This means creating green development solutions that
reduce inequalities and make oppressed peoples and communities proponents of
climate change solutions in ways that benefit them directly. It could also be read as the
attempt to reconcile injustices inflicted upon world native/indigenous peoples by colonial
powers and western developers. Indigenous peoples have also been geographically
marginalised to regions with the most abundant renewable resources.1
The word "colony" comes from the Latin colonia—"a place for agriculture".
social and environmental problems often intersect and are caused by the same kind of
exploitative, unsustainable business methods is fundamental to the notion of climate
- Climate Debt- the idea that since the Industrial Revolution occurred first in the North that
historical greenhouse gas emissions have benefitted those in the North and are causing
a detrimental effect on those in the Global South, (both because climate change impacts
people in the GS more and because the GS cannot develop in the same carbon
intensive way and so must be supported to develop equitable low carbon development
- Empowering oppressed peoples - community renewable energy projects provide an
opportunity for historically marginalised groups to own and develop projects that are
socially, economically and politically beneficial to their communities whilst addressing
energy needs and climate change.
- Democratic control & choice - typically ignored or, at most, superficially consulted,
indigenous people and/or low income communities do often not have influence or control
over how their region develops. Community energy projects allow local communities to
democratically decide all aspects of their renewable energy project.
● How might community renewable energydevelopment differ between the South
and the North? e.g. Mexico and the UK
- Expertise, infrastructure, planning, renewable energy incentives e.g. Feed In Tariffs,
Renewables Obligation Certificates.
- Mexico: poor rural farmers & indigenous population, communal land rights use, state
owned grid and oil company Pemex.
- UK: rural middle class, no indigenous, private land rights. Climate Change Act 2008,
historically has the highest per capita emissions of any country in world.
- SLIDE 4: Development causing conflict: Mareña Renovables video ‘Somos viento’
- SLIDE 5: Global carbon trading: market based climate solutions - internalising
- Video ‘Somos viento’ explaining carbon trading
- Carbon credits and the carbon market - Carbon trading- a way for businesses to
internalises costs of GHGs- 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent = 1 carbon credit. Schemes have
been developed that encourage GN businesses and governments to invest in the GS.
- Problems- no overall regulation of one tonne equivalent of carbon dioxide gas emission.
e.g. famously in 2007, the Vatican City was given 100,000 Euros of carbon offsetting as
a donation which was supposed to be for a new forest being planted in Hungary. This
was a good publicity-stunt for Planktos/KlimaFa, when they presented the Pope with a
carbon offsetting certificate. It turned out to be a huge geoengineering project where
they would put iron filings over 2.4m acres of the Pacific Ocean to promote the growth of
phytoplankton, which, when they died, would drop to the sea floor, sequestering carbon.
The Vatican has filed legal action2
. Plankton blooms might actually increase global
warming due to increasing methane and nitrous oxide emissions.
- Clean Development Mechanism (UN-accredited carbon trading): After the Kyoto
Protocol, the CDM was created alongside the Emissions Trading and the Joint
Implementation (permits Annex I (~ Global North) countries to collaboratively invest in
emissions-reduction projects in order to hit their emission reduction targets) created a
framework for the trading of GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions. The CDM is a
sustainable development scheme which allows Annex I (Global North) countries to
invest in emissions-reducing countries in Annex II (Global South) countries. It is a
project-based market approach to solving GHG emissions problems. It has three goals:
1) reduce GHG emissions, 2) to build Global South countries’ low carbon technology
capacity through a system of technology transfer, and 3) to foster ‘sustainable
- Clean Technology Fund: One of two large private funds administered by the World Bank.
It uses billions of dollars to fund low carbon technologies in middle-income countries,
such as Mexico and Turkey. “The CTF pipeline of 134 projects and programs totals $6.1
billion and expects co-financing of $51 billion from other sources. CTF $3.9 billion (74%
of CTF funding) is approved for 70 projects, leveraging $44 billion in co-financing, to
deliver 16.6 GW of renewable energy capacity of which 2.2 GW is already installed.”
- The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a fund within the framework of the UNFCCC founded
as a mechanism to redistribute money from the developed to the developing world, in
order to assist the developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter
climate change. ‘The Green Climate Fund will support projects, programmes, policies
and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows’.
intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise Climate Finance of $100 billion a year
- Problems: no community ownership, minimal consultation, minimal accountability,
foreign profit, foreign investment, exploitative contracts, illegal land grabs, no
transparency (best through the IADB, not sufficient) often part of the Plan Puebla-
Adrian Parr, The Wrath of Capital, 2013, Columbia University Press, 30-31
Panama aka. The Mesoamerican Project. Risk caused by resistance for business
● SLIDE 6-7: What is The Yansa Group? (video ‘Yansa general’)
- -In 2008, the community of Ixtepec contacted Yansa seeking a solution to wind
development problems through the planning of an alternative community-owned project
that would harness their regional wind resource based on their own democratic self-
governing comuna, (a politically recognised community operating the commons.)
- -Recent utility-scale wind farms initiated by foreign investors have been met with local
resistance. This has been due to exploitative contracts, inadequate community
engagement and outright disregard for the wishes and rights of the Zapotec and non-
Zapotec people in this area. In Mexico this has led to the state evicting communities
from their land on behalf of corporate wind projects in spite of legal protections that the
Mexican Constitution or the UN appear to offer3
- The Yansa Group also works internationally with indigenous communities, presently only
in the Global South to develop democratic community wind farms. These communities
often do not have the financial, legal and technical resources they need to undertake
these projects so Yansa facilitates and supports these capacities.
● SLIDE 8-10: The Yansa Group’s Structure
-Yansa Community Interest Company (Limited by Guarantee) - registered in the London,
UK: The social development of the communities where its projects take place. The
promotion of community renewable energy in other communities.
-Yansa, Inc. a.k.a. The Yansa Foundation - registered in New York, USA
-Yansa Renovables S. de R.L. de C.V. – Limited Liability Company registered in Mexico
City, Mexico (subsidiary of the project CIC in order to operate in Mexico)
-Each project has a further CIC for the specific community.
- Revenue will be generated by the national grid, CFE (Comision Federal
Electricidad), purchasing the electricity in an arrangement similar to a FiT (Feed-in
Tariff) or a ROC (Renewables Obligation Certificate).
World Development Movement, ‘Power to the People? How World Bank financed wind farms failed
communities in Mexico’, November 2011
- Security Trust: holds assets e.g. wind turbines and collects the revenue to distribute to
lenders before profit goes towards a Community Development Trust, Yansa & Yansa’s
Mutual Guarantee Instrument.
- •Mutual Guarantee Instrument: collateralises the debt and stabilises cash flow across
different projects - aim is to keep project under the control of a structure that is equally
accountable to communities and to investors or financiers, thus reducing the
financial risk and financing cost of projects over time. Protects the project’s assets from
takeover by creditors in case of unexpected cash flow problems.
- 50% of the revenue generated by the agreement will then be reinvested back into the
community via a Community Development Trust mechanism and the other 50% will go
towards three entities: the Yansa Foundation for community training, enabling the
community to entirely run the enterprise in the long-term; the Yansa CIC is concerned
with the technical aspects and planning of the project. The CIC will also help develop
other wind projects elsewhere.
SLIDE 11: Co-operative models in the UK & The Yansa Group’s model
How is it similar? How is it different?
The Yansa Group’s projects fit with Co-operative Values: self-help, self-responsibility,
democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. However, Yansa would not consider its projects to
In accordance with the UK’s regulatory Financial Conduct Authority’s rules, co-ops in the UK
may have members who participate remotely through buying, selling, supplying or using the
services of the co-op whilst not actually engaging in the decision-making process.4
co-ops in the UK can sometimes end up being investment vehicles without the ‘community
involvement’ that co-operative principles encourage. Originally in Denmark there was a rule
which stated that most of the ownership of the renewable energy co-op should be within a
specific geographic area.
From Yansa Group’s Impact Report. - “In the case of Mexico, the consensus to include
vulnerable sectors was reached with a strong basis. Our intervention was based on two ideas:
first, that even if the land belongs to a specific part of the community, the wind “belongs”
to everyone in the community. Second, that Yansa’s social objective is to promote wind
projects that benefit and involve the complete community, in a differentiated but inclusive
manner. This was understood and agreed by all community members, including those who hold
the power with regards to the land. A Women’s Forum and a Youth Forum were convened as
autonomous organizational spaces.” The community here is defined as the inhabitants of
Yansa’s CIC model allows full community ownership and equity whilst simultaneously making
the company available for investment to impact investors through both the CIC and Yansa's
investment mechanism. Yansa would not call it's mechanism a co-operative one, it is aiming to
create community ownership by people locally affected by the project on land that is
Ultimately the reason why a co-operative model or share scheme may not work in poor
communities is because often the financial benefits of being a member of these entities
are not distributed to the entire community because payments will be restricted to those
with the means to invest in the project in the first place. An example of this is the
Energy4All initiative. Allowing a democratic community development trust to reinvest in
the local area is helpful as it creates, arguably, a more just solution.
SLIDE 12: To conclude:
Co-operative models can cause an unjust outcome in very geographically specific scenarios,
such as with wind farms. If the profit (dividend) is only returned back to the investors, that is
basically only an investment vehicle without the community values. Whilst hopefully local people
will invest in co-operatives, poor people are likely to be left out. In poor areas in the Global
South - for example rural, renewable energy rich areas – the locals are unlikely to be able to
invest. With the idea that it is the local community’s wind, they should benefit from it. Impact
investment allows for financial returns whilst developing a revenue stream for the whole
community, not just land owners or shareholders.5
Comparing models of ownership:
1. Geographically concentrated ownership and control; global financing - Necessary for
trust in Global South
2. Geographically dispersed ownership and control; global financing - Political difficulty and
risk for investment - see World Development Movement, 2011
3. Geographically concentrated ownership and control; local financing - difficult in Global
The Regulator in the UK: Energy 4 All and other UK ‘renewable energy co-operatives’ - ‘At the
heart of the issue is the question of whether energy co-operative members participate actively
enough in the co-op. To register a co-op, Financial Conduct Authority rules require a mutual to
show participation which it lists as “buying from or selling to the society”, “using the services or
amenities provided by it” and/or “supplying services to carry out its business”.
But unlike a co-op shop, which can sell direct to its members, energy co-ops are too small to
apply for licenses that would mean they could sell electricity from a wind turbine directly to
members – instead, they usually sell to the national grid via a broker, and divide the profits
An FCA spokeswoman did not confirm whether there had been a shift in the authority’s stance
towards energy co-ops, but said: “One of the conditions for registration is that the applicant must
be a bona fide co-operative society where members participate in its business. When applicants
cannot demonstrate this to the FCA, in accordance with the [Co-operative and Community
Benefit Societies] act, we cannot register them.”’
http://www.redpepper.org.uk/power-to-transform/ - renewable energy co-operatives
http://www.mstbrazil.org/whatismst Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra (Landless
Workers’ Movement, Brazil) train people to set up wind farms.
op_Review_RegulatoryScan_Jan2012.pdf - Renewable Energy Co-op Review: Scan of Models
& Regulatory Issues → looks at Canada and Europe exclusively.
http://www.uk.coop/sites/storage/public/downloads/renewableenergy_0_0.pdf - A guide to UK
Renewable Energy Co-ops by Co-ops UK.
‘The voluntary carbon offset market obscures the structures of exploitation and subordination
endemic to the circuitry of capital as it flows from the back pocket of Rabobank to Suzlon
Energy Ltd. but not to the Adivasi farmers in India whose land was used without their permission
for carbon offsets. The same structures can be seen as capital flows from the individuals and
businesses buying offsets from Green Seat to balance out their air travel emissions to FACE
which owns the carbon sequestration rights to the 25,000 hectare of trees in the Mount Elgon
National forest in Uganda that provides Green Seat with carbon offsets to sell as well as to the
World Bank and the European Commission but not to the Benet people who not only lost their
livelihoods and land but were also the victims of arson, rape, torture and beatings as they were
forced from their forest homes at the hands of UWA staff, police and soldiers. From this
standpoint the voluntary carbon offset market facilitates the expansion of power and extends the
authority of the already influential at the expense of the vulnerable...Turning carbon into a
commodity is not a solution.’6
6 Adrian Parr, The Wrath of Capital, 2013, Columbia University Press