Crowdfunding for renewables comes of age  

Posted by Big Gav in

Energy Bulletin has a look at the growth of community funded renewable energy projects - Crowdfunding for renewables comes of age.

In recession era Europe, much talk is of ‘innovative’ or ‘alternative’ financing for sustainable energy – meaning money other than the public purse. In 2012 crowdfunding in Europe saw an estimated 65 % growth compared to 2011 and reached €735 million. With industry insiders Massolution forecasting an 81 % increase in global crowdfunding volumes in 2013, it looks like crowdfunding might just get serious. ...

Accelerated through social media and online communication, crowdfunding is a financial power tool for energy cooperatives.

To realize the ambitions of local sustainable energy plans, ‘community finance’ – which may be regarded as a form of crowdfunding – could be a big part of the solution. Given the speed with which both crowdfunding and the energy cooperative sector are expanding (the number of European energy grew cooperatives grew from 1200 last year to some 2000 this year), community-financed cooperatives could seriously shake up the energy market in many countries.

Energy cooperatives have perhaps been most successful so far in Denmark. While many other countries are still struggling with local opposition to wind or other green energy projects, and with the integration of fluctuating energy from wind and solar, Denmark has largely overcome these problems by giving local communities a financial stake in local energy projects, and by combining heat and power and implementing district heating infrastructure across the country.According to Dirk Vansintjan of Belgian renewable energy cooperative Ecopower, ‘For Danes, it is the natural way of organizing themselves. Since the Middle Ages they’ve been doing it, and today most renewable projects in the country are organized this way.’

Germany too is a leader in the field of community energy, with 65 % of its renewable energy capacity community-owned. There are over 600 energy cooperatives in Germany, the number having increased tenfold in the period from 2000-2010.

Despite a long tradition of cooperatives, Spain just gained its first in the energy sector – Som Energia. By June 2013, this cooperative had 8000 members and had invested more than €3 million in renewable energy production projects – an impressive result in an acutely recession-struck country in less than two years. ...

Can the upstarts join forces with the bureaucrats? If the local can get organized quickly enough, distributed energy could become a game-changer faster than we think.

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