Thanks to you, Hyperion energy community has achieved its investment goal and will soon produce its own solar energy for its members, significantly reducing their electricity bills. It was a great pleasure for us to host at Genervest’s investment platform a project that is truly an example for others to follow on how citizens can implement themselves clean energy solutions for a future without fossil fuels. Through our platform, the community found the needed but also valuable support from all kinds of people and institutions such as the sustainable investment development company Astydama and Coopernico, Portugal’s largest energy cooperative, which, like Hyperion, got part of its initial funding by a similar cooperative from Belgium.
The energy community is now ready to implement its first project and Chris, founding member of Hyperion who represented the community in Genervest’s investment campaign, talked to us about the community, its funding and its next steps.
In less than 3 months, Hyperion closed its investment goal successfully via Genervest. How was this process for you?
In the absence of institutional financial tools, civil society is organized bottom up and provides alternatives such as Genervest. This is very optimistic! Of course, there were moments of intense concern during which we doubted whether we would be able to raise the necessary funds and therefore succeed in the project. Our experience shown that various citizens, from different backgrounds, supported us with small, medium and large amounts, highlighting in practice an alternative solidarity financing model.
Hyperion is now officially the first energy community in Athens that will produce its own solar energy for self-consumption. How did you get started?
Having worked one way or another for a long time in the field of clean energy and energy democracy, we started talking about Hyperion in 2019, about a year after the enactment of the energy communities law in Greece. It all started from our common need to turn the rhetoric around energy democracy in practice, as well as to contribute directly to the fight against climate crisis. Hyperion was and is an ongoing experiment on cooperative principles and direct democratic organization, elements that are important for all our members.
What were the biggest difficulties you faced?
Well they were the …usual suspects: first of all, the lack of financial mechanisms. Systemic banks refuse even today to lend to non-profit energy communities such as Hyperion. We also face an unstable institutional framework, based on the reforms in December 2020. This can also be considered a setback. We hope that following our comments to the Ministry (in collaboration with other energy communities and relevant institutions), a number of changes will be made to the institutional framework in order to support broad-based energy communities (i.e., with many members) and especially the non-for-profit ones. Finally, 3 years after the relevant law was established, there has been no information at a governmental level about the energy communities and their benefits. So, we end up approaching new members “door-to-door”, which is partly positive as we can build relationships of trust with them, but this is not a viable strategy if the goal for energy communities is to grow across the country.
What are your next steps to contribute to the creation of a decentralized and democratic energy system in Greece?
We plan to expand Hyperion with our second project that will be bigger and will have more members, and especially more energy poor households. We are in contact with various institutions, such as Municipalities, to find available space (e.g., rooftops), and explore with our members ideas for new projects (e.g. a photovoltaic park combined with agricultural production). At the same time, we continue to be politically active and network with other energy communities to ensure that the institutional framework is supportive. Finally, we support newly formed energy communities in order to promote energy democracy in Greece, as well as in neighboring countries (e.g., Balkans).
We warmly thank all our Genervestors who invested in Hyperion, and we will soon have updates about the community’s activities!