Renewable energy co-ops are still relatively new in Canada and at present include wind, solar and biofuel co-ops. They include all co-op types - consumer, worker, producer and multi-stakeholder - and most often their activities focus on the production and distribution of renewable energy. Some co-ops in this sector work at the community level to promote renewable energy or to help raise investment and support project development.
The online tools and guides that appear on this page are the best of what is known to exist in Canada at this time. New materials will be added as they become available or as further research is completed in this area. NOTE: If you are aware of other tools or guides that should be added here, please let us know by sending an
Guide to Starting a Biofuel Co-op
Developed by the Agricultural Co-op Development Initiative (Ag-CDI) in 2007, this guide was written for farmer groups interested in turning agricultural biomass into ethanol or biodiesel on a commercial scale. It covers all key stages of the planning and financing process related to such projects.
Guidebooks for various types of renewable energy
The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) provides a range of guides for community groups wishing to pursue wind and solar energy projects.
Guide to Finding, Selecting and Using Consultants
This excellent guide was developed in the UK for social enterprises. It is useful for all types of co-operatives.
Three case studies on biofuel co-ops
Developed by the Agricultural Co-op Development Initiative (Ag-CDI) in 2007, these case studies examine the factors that can determine success or failure for large-scale biofuel co-ops. Two of the projects were in Canada; one of them failed to launch but yielded some very useful lessons.
Lameque Renewable Energy Co-op
This New Brunswick wind energy project began in 1999, and the case study reveals the development process and the complexity of partnerships required to undertake such a project on a commercial scale.
Westmill Wind Farm Co-op (UK)
This co-op successfully launched a 6.5 megawatt wind farm in the south of England in 2008. It powers 2,500 homes and is 100% Community owned.
Renewable Energy Co-operatives - Canadian Examples
Vancouver Renewable Energy Co-operative (BC)
Canada's renewable energy sector includes all co-op types - worker, producer, consumer and multi-stakeholder - involved in a wide range of activities. Here is a sample group of co-operatives with websites. They include a worker co-op that installs renewable energy systems, a biodiesel co-op that distributes fuel created from waste vegetable oil, two farmer groups that produce ethanol and solar energy for the commercial market, and community and investment co-operatives that promote and help launch renewable energy projects.
Vancouver Biodiesel Co-op (BC)
Integrated Grain Processors Co-operative (ON)
Agris Solar Co-operative (ON)
Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (ON)
Community Energy Co-operative (NB)
Reports and other Resources
Co-operative Energy: Lessons from Denmark and Sweden
This comprehensive report looks at the possibilities and the way forward for co-operatives in renewable energy by examining the work of the co-op front-runners in Europe. It includes many lessons learned and offers great inspiration in terms of what co-ops can achieve in this sector.
Co-op and Community Wind Projects
This site provides a vast collection of resources on community owned wind energy projects, compiled by a key activist and proponent in the sector. The resources are international in scope.
Canadian Renewable Fuels Association
This national trade association represents Canada's producers of renewable transportation fuels. The site includes a list of reports and funding sources available for biofuel projects through federal and provincial sources. See left menu bar for provincial programs.
BC Sustainable Energy Association
This non-profit association is the key advocate and promoter of sustainable energy in British Columbia -with a focus on public education, networking and joint initiatives among members, and influencing policy and program development. Its website offers a good overview of various renewable technologies.
The Community Economic Impact of the IGPC Renewable Fuels Plant in Aylmer, Ontario
This recent study used a variety of measures to examine the economic impact of both the construction and ongoing operations of this first ever large-scale biofuel co-operative in Canada.
Ownership Matters: Three Steps to Ensure a Biofuels Industry that Truly Benefits Rural America
This 2006 report outlines the reasons why local ownership of the biofuels industry is key to the success of farmers and rural communities. It compares different ownership structures and concludes that local ownership brings significant additional benefits.
Biofuel Technology Handbook
Published in Germany in 2008, this is a comprehensive guide to the technologies and processes, the pros and cons, and the policies related to transforming biomass into ethanol, biodiesel and various bio-gases.
Guides and other publications from OSEA
The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association offers a range of comprehensive guides for community solar and wind projects. Most are in hard copy only. You can preview the table of contents and order at this site.