The principle behind the Citizens’ energy network is simple. Citizens establish a company and run a renewable energy network together. For example, they can lease roofs on which they install solar power systems. As co-owners of the company, the citizens have co-determination and controlling rights. Operating companies can be established in various forms, such as a limited liability partnership (GmbH & Co. KG) or a partnership as provided for in the German Civil Code (GbR).
Projects and ideas that might not be feasible for an individual can be realised in a group by consolidating capital and know-how. The whole community also benefits from the value added. Citizens receive leasing fees for the space used, handicraft businesses set up and maintain the systems, and the municipality benefits from tax revenues.
A large portion of renewable energy generation in Germany is already in citizen hands. At the end of 2014 we had nearly 900 citizen´s energy collectives in Germany. In Baden-Württemberg exist about 150 citizens´energy collectives with more than 26,000 participating citizens.