Crowdfunding could open doors to renewable energy for communities

In the wake of the global economic collapse in 2010 securing funding for community renewable energy projects was almost impossible. Fast forward to 2012 and the picture is a lot brighter with communities forging a new path to secure investment and solve their energy problems.

The concept of Crowfunding is largely responsible for this turnaround. While traditional business models measure performance in terms of profit and returns, the new generation of social entrepreneurs measure their performance in terms of positive impact on society. In addition to food and water, electricity is a prominent societal need, improving living conditions and supporting small scale businesses in developing countries.

The potential for technology  and social enterprise to join together to solve some significant societal problems is an exciting prospect.

While the development of Crowdfunding Investment (set to go live in 2013) will help link funding to various types of sustainable projects the renewable energy applications are perhaps the most exciting. The projects arising from Crowfunding have the potential to address both fuel poverty and community resistance to large scale renewable energy developments.

Two of the best examples of this are on opposite sides of the globe: Puerto Rico and Scotland. In both cases the community pooled small amounts funding together to invest in wind technology that would lower the communities’ energy bills, leading to vested interest in the success of the wind farm. Solar Mosaic, based in the US, has had recent success working with the Asian Resource Center in Oakland, CA. It is estimated that the project will save the ARC more than $100,000.00 with its implementation.

Within Australia Crowdfunding, along solar leasing schemes, could broaden the range of finance options, negating the requirement for upfront investment and potentially leading to greater cost savings by encouraging large scale community installations rather than smaller-scale, individual residential ones.

Top image via Solar Mosaic

© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Rebecca Boyle