Photo: courtesy of Jelena Nikolić

In light of the development of the modern energy sector, Elektropionir – an energy cooperative formed around 2019 – has become a beacon for people who are actively looking for a better position in this sector. The cooperative’s team raises awareness of the challenges that individuals, as natural persons, face when trying to produce their own electricity. Through its members’ personal insights and experiences, Elektropionir identified disharmony in the legal framework, which did not recognize individual electricity producers as an integral part of the extensive power grid. Then, a slight change happened, illuminating the path towards creating a mechanism to introduce the community into a collective energy enterprise. Jelena Nikolić, a doctoral candidate in energy management and a member of the Elektropionir Energy Cooperative, elaborates on the cooperative’s work and its most renowned project.

Following the cooperative principles, this cooperative is a legal entity that strategically organizes its members while promoting voluntary and open membership, democratic organization (one member/one vote), economic participation of all cooperative members, inter-cooperative cooperation through participation in the European umbrella organization of energy cooperatives – REScoop – as well as autonomy in business. Education has always been the central pillar EMPOWERING LOCAL COMMUNITIES – PANEL BY PANEL TO POWER PLANT


Photo: Elektropionir

“During our Solartehnika course, we try to pass on everything we know to the nation and share the experience we have gained. So far, we have held six courses, each different from the previous one. The period between the two courses brings new knowledge and a different approach, so each Solartehnika course is better than the previous one. So far, more than 250 participants have attended them,” Jelena Nikolić points out.

Elektropionir has opened a new chapter in sustainable energy in Serbia with their immersion in the Solarna Stara project, initiating the idea that ordinary people, united and determined, are powerful drivers of change in the energy transition. The project demonstrates that the responsibility for setting up a power plant does not have to be concentrated exclusively in the hands of large investors. Namely, when local communities unite, they can produce their own electricity and advocate for a just energy transition through action and common ownership of clean energies. The project was launched in the spring of 2022 in cooperation with the people from the old mountain villages of Dojkinci and Temska and the city of Pirot. Still, it was designed and implemented under the auspices of the Elektropionir Energy Cooperative. It laid the groundwork for the country’s first cooperative solar power plants, setting the standard for future initiatives.

Prepared by: Milica Vučković

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine  CIRCULAR ECONOMY