When we at Asonautas, back in late 2020, set out to design a project on energy communities in rural areas, we could not have known how the landscape would change in just two years. One of our (many) concerns revolved around the question of energy, and especially the question of energy in our villages, but we did not quite know where to start “dealing” with the issue. At that time, we came across the term “energy communities” more and more often, and once we had clarified our initial doubts, it was clear to us that we could start there: learning more in depth, as an organisation, what energy communities were; then identifying successful (or not) experiences in other rural areas; and finally, passing on this newly acquired knowledge to our community members in the best possible way. It was not an overly ambitious project, but it seemed a good first step to us to move towards new ways of doing things in this area in our valleys.
In Cantabria, the field was empty and we arrived with the intention that energy communities could be understood as the absolutely transformative tool that they can be. However, things are changing rapidly, there is a proliferation of initiatives (or announcements of initiatives) that are energy communities in name only, companies are appearing to hand over a turnkey “energy community” to the local councils… In short, we are once again witnessing a distortion of the original idea, which we do not know whether we will be able to counteract. We are working on it, taking small steps, but being aware that we need to go faster than would be ideal, and that we are only at the starting point.