Crowdfunding Clean Energy (NYTimes 3/6/13)
If you wanted to get large numbers of people actively engaged in helping to solve global warming, how might you go about it? For years, the main approach in the environmental movement has been to sound the alarm bell and implore people to consume less, switch to green products, recycle, and speak up to companies and politicians. It hasn’t always been an easy sell. However, if the approach of a promising Oakland-based start-up takes hold, there may be another line of action that could become available to ordinary people: directly financing renewable energy.
In January, a company called Mosaic, made a splash in the renewable energy world when it introduced a crowd-funding platform that makes it possible for small, non-accredited investors to earn interest financing clean energy projects. When Mosaic posted its first four investments online – solar projects offering 4.5 percent returns to investors who could participate with loans as small as $25 — the company’s co-founder, Billy Parish, thought it would take a month to raise the $313,000 required. Within 24 hours, 435 people had invested and the projects were sold out. The company had spent just $1,000 on marketing. All told, Mosaic has raised $1.1 million for a dozen solar projects to date. Now it is connecting with other solar developers to identify new projects for financing. More than 10,000 people have already signed on and are standing by to invest.
Is Crowdfunding a Good Thing for Clean Energy Innovation?
One distinction between renewable energy technologies and their nonrenewable counterparts is their popular appeal. Surveys have found a majority of Democrats and Republicans support increasing government funding for renewable energy research and tax rebates for people who purchase solar panels or energy efficient vehicles. Public support for fossil fuels is decidedly lower, with 70 percent of Americans saying all subsidies for fossil fuels should be discontinued, including a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
The most notable example of late is the Solar Roadways Inidiegogo campaign, which raised over $2.25 million to develop solar panels that double as a drivable road surface. Solar Roadways created a tidal wave of excitement around their technology using unconventional marketing tools like a YouTube video titled “Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways!” that went viral shortly after it debuted. After achieving Internet fame, the campaign went on to more than double its $1 million fundraising goal, setting an all-time record for the Indiegogo site.
Let’s look at another recent example. An Indiegogo campaign currently in progress for a bladeless wind generator developed by the company Vortex Bladeless has already raised over $62,000, or 125 percent of its goal. Vortex claims their unique wind generator, which produces energy from vibrations induced by wind vortices that form behind its upright shaft, can achieve an all-in or levelized cost for energy that is 40 percent less than that of conventional wind turbines. The promise of improving the economics for wind energy has helped rally interest in Vortex’s technology, including attention from the likes of Wired and The Guardian.
GridShare is an independent online funding platform that brings together renewable energy projects, clean technology companies, investors and donors.
Here’s what’s unique about GridShare:
1. GridShare is (clean) technology agnostic:
GridShare facilitates investments and donations into every type of renewable energ company and project – solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, hydro, tidal energy and more. If it’s related to clean energy, you can find it on GridShare!
EquityNet is a recognized pioneer of crowdfunding and has operated one of the largest business crowdfunding platforms since 2005. The multi-patented EquityNet platform includes over 100,000 individual entrepreneurs and investors, incubators, government support entities, and other members of the entrepreneurial community. EquityNet provides access to thousands of investors and has helped entrepreneurs across North America raise over $300 million in equity, debt, and royalty-based capital.
We offer more than just large numbers of entrepreneurs and investors. By combining our patented analytics, large proprietary business benchmarking database, and market-leading standardization, EquityNet achieves a superior experience for investors and a higher funding success rate for entrepreneurs. EquityNet’s patented Enterprise Analyzer™ technology enables entrepreneurs to analyze and optimize their business plan before they engage investors. Investors and business supporters in turn use EquityNet’s advanced technology to efficiently screen and analyze businesses to fund and support entrepreneurs.
According to industry research by Crowdsourcing.org and the World Bank, crowdfunding generated $16.2 billion in funding transactions in 2014 and will surpass $300 billion in funding transactions by 2025. EquityNet has positioned itself as a leading business crowdfunding platform with platform populations and marketplace activity growing at rates of 200% to 500% per year.
How EquityNet Works
We are not a bank, we are a marketplace
Marketplace lending is more efficient
Mosaic’s software connects investors that believe in clean energy to borrowers like you. They invest in you, you save.
TOP 5 Renewable Energy Crowdfunding Platforms
Over the years we’ve seen and experienced many challenges and barriers in the constantly evolving renewable energy industry. There are regulatory hurdles, technical challenges, and consumer acceptance, to name a few. But one of the biggest impediments to widespread change has always been finance. Now, the emerging finance method of “crowd funding” has provided a new way to leave out third parties, provide energy and monetary benefits to investors and democratize energy in the true sense. The five platforms listed below are the top leaders in renewable energy crowd funding, based on the money they have raised so far.
The sites listed below enable entrepreneurs, non-profits, and their supporters to solicit funds from individuals (“the crowd”) via the internet. Some of these sites also enable you to invest in social good projects, such as solar installations. If you have suggestions for this list please send an e-mail to info [at] greenvc.org