Crowdfunding Power: Solving Climate Change and Other Community Needs

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Crowdfunding could be an incredibly powerful way to deliver a decentralised energy system. In Germany, over 50 per cent of renewable energy capacity is now community-owned. Online crowdfunding or peer-to-peer (P2P) lending allows individuals to lend or raise money for projects directly. The latest player to appear on the P2P lending scene is Abundance, set up by Bruce Davis, one of the founders of P2P pioneer Zopa. It invests specifically in renewable energy. Having funded three renewable generation schemes, two solar and one wind, it has raised £2.3 million through crowdfunded finance.

Davis says, "We're looking at funding projects in the £1 to £4 million range, up to £10 million. So far 600 individuals have invested an average of between £1,500 and £2,000. There is a minimum investment of £5 and we do get people putting in £5. Everyone gets the same return based on a share of the revenues from selling the energy... the return on the current project is between 7.35 per cent to 8.6 per cent depending on the amount of sunshine estimated at that site." He rejects the idea that renewable energy is a risky investment. A local hydro scheme on the Thames in Osney raised all the money needed in ten days from lots of individuals giving relatively small sums.

Yet the most important contribution crowdfunding makes to renewable energy is about engaging people more directly in their energy future. On a community and a financial level, it makes people feel more included in the process and not as though it's been imposed on them. Spreading ownership more broadly is more likely to create the political permission to do more.

At the recent Economist U.K. Energy Summit, Katja Hall, chief policy director of the CBI, stated…"if we want to get an electricity supply that is low carbon, secure and affordable, we'll need £110 billion of investment in the next decade, and that's the equivalent to building the Olympic stadium 20 times a year, for ten years!" This is why crowdfunding platforms appear to be the next step to getting things done, which is why UruutTM has beenset up in Atlanta in the U.S.

UruutTM is a collaborative community-level funding platform that has invited individuals, businesses and foundations to contribute through its unique crowdfunding technology. This social enterprise is backed by $200,000 in seed funding with a high-profile advisory board comprised of corporate and philanthropic leaders. Uruut helps transform local communities by bringing together three funding sources with municipalities, not-for-profits and civic groups seeking project and program backing. This collaborative approach revolutionises the traditional fundraising model and empowers communities to do more good and be empowered. Uruut not only offers businesses, corporate social responsibility groups and foundations a transparent marketplace where they can search for and self-select vetted ideas, it also offers people a chance to change lives.

Photo Credit: Digital Trends