Bosnians crowdfund country’s first community solar project

23 July 2019

Solarna Pecka will be first citizen solar energy initiative in rural Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is about to gain its first ever community solar electricity, after 226 individuals and organisations chipped in to one of the country’s first ever crowdfunding campaigns. In just 26 days, around six thousand euros were raised for ‘Solarna Pecka’, to bring solar energy to a remote and depopulated rural area, Pecka village.

Pecka's visitor centre will be first citizen solar energy initiative in rural Bosnia-Herzegovina

The community solar panels will be installed on the roof of a visitor centre for sustainable rural development and tourism – providing both hot water and renewable electricity to the building and villagers’ homes.

Sandra Josovic for Center for Environment / Friends of the Earth Bosnia Herzegovina said:

This is a remarkable success – we’ve smashed our crowdfunding target, and we are so excited to help bring the first community solar energy to rural Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s especially remarkable for a country such as ours, where people have suffered numerous disasters and where there is no culture of citizen fundraising nor energy participation.

“Solar energy is the future awaiting us. And this success confirms that there’s a real appetite here for people to get involved in investing in renewable energy solutions and in successful small-scale community projects.”

Boost to depopulated rural area

The building was a former school, out of use for 30 years due to the lack of children in the village. But today it welcomes visitors and outdoor sports enthusiasts as a residential and educational centre, providing social and leisure facilities, bicycle rental, family events, outdoor sports, and sustainable rural tourism. The country’s largest natural rock-climbing centre is in the area, and nature lovers come to visit the springs of the Sana river. Thanks to the Visitor Centre, established five years ago by “Greenways” sustainable development organisation, the village of Pecka has begun to revive.

Raising awareness of community energy solutions

Friends of the Earth Bosnia & Herzegovina hope this pilot project will raise awareness of rural community renewable energy solutions and spur on further solar and sustainable energy projects.

Solarna Pecka is a truly community initiative

Activists have for years been resisting Bosnia’s reliance on dirty energy. They have been opposing new coal power stations – Bosnia & Herzegovina is already Europe’s largest coal polluter. And they have fought the explosion of small hydro power projects, which are helping to destroy the country’s (and Europe’s) last wild rivers. Nearby Pecka, a small hydro-power plant in the springs of the River Sana has deeply affected the nature and villagers’ natural resources and cultural heritage, though without solving energy deprivation in the area.

Promoting community energy will help the village protect its nature and cultural heritage, whilst helping to increase energy independence and alleviate energy poverty. And the visitor centre will show the way for other communities to adopt community energy.

A further 5.6 thousand euros are still needed to complete the project, with the support of other organisations and companies.