Traditional, non-renewable energy sources are being rapidly depleted. Besides, these forms of energy pollute the environment, and are often hazardous to extract and difficult to transport / distribute.
On the other hand, projects and initiatives to discover, provide and use clean and renewable energy are usually quite expensive. To be successful in such projects, a lot of investment is needed for research and development, implementation of infrastructure, storage or distribution facilities, and for the actual production of these high-tech initiatives. Unfortunately, such large amounts of money can only be provided by the governments or big investment funds; and with extensive funding and support comes high dependency. Therefore, only few small, private and local initiatives get noticed, let alone having any chance to grow into something that can actually make any major impact.
This has been the situation until the last few years.
However, over the last couple of years, crowd funding has been growing in popularity and importance. This alternative source of investment offers a chance for small initiatives to grow and become successful. These small projects are no longer dependent on ‘creativity-strangling’ government funding or ‘quick return-seeking’ investment funds. Instead, under the evolving circumstances, innovative ideas can be presented to huge groups of people. If the idea is sound, lots of people are often willing to participate, by investing relatively small sums of money. An added positive effect is that this type of funding offers individuals to get involved with the initiatives and be part of the process. Furthermore, there are now crowd funding platforms, specifically targeted at clean energy initiatives.
What do you think, can crowd funding help innovate and bring clean and renewable energy initiatives to life?
Here are 5 great initiatives:
Duurzaam investeren: ‘Duurzaam investeren’ is a platform, active in Belgium and the Netherlands, that serves as a meeting ground and virtual market place for bringing together private investors and creators of renewable energy projects. The platform has helped find investors for lots of initiatives, mostly in wind and solar energy projects.
Renewable Energy Crowd funding Conference (November 5 2015, London, UK): The RE Crowd funding conference hopes to bring together experts to discuss and promote the use of crowd funding as a way to fund renewable energy projects and initiatives. From the website: “The Renewable Energy Crowd funding Conference will connect the leaders in crowd funding to project developers, investors and banks with an interest in exploring and using crowd funding for their business.”
The ACE 1 Ultra-Clean Biomass Cookstove: The ACE 1 Ultra-Clean Biomass Cookstove is a stove that uses almost any biomass (like pellets and woodchips); and with the aid of solar energy, can burn with incredible efficiency. Compared to traditional cooking methods, the ACE 1 is faster, it uses significantly less fuel, reduces CO2 emissions, and it also provides a convenient source of electricity in remote areas. It is also convenient to charge a phone or light a small lamp. Income is used (in part) to subsidize Cookstoves for families in third world countries.
Ocean Energy Turbine: It’s an initiative to develop an ‘ocean energy turbine’ … something like a wind turbine, which operates in the water. If this project succeeds, it will the promise is huge. This could potentially deliver enough energy to replace non-renewable energy sources. “The Ocean Energy Turbine is the first commercially viable clean renewable energy source that has the potential to compete with and eventually replace fossil fuels and nuclear energy dependence.”
Windcentrale: Launched in 2010, this Dutch initiative has raised over 14 million euros. The idea is for private investors to raise funds to acquire wind power. Each investor becomes an owner, and (on average) receives about 500 kWh per year. By making this a community-owned initiative, investors have an even bigger involvement with the project.
To conclude, there are a growing number of initiatives and platforms, centered around using crowd funding as a way to get funding and investors for clean and renewable energy. This appears to really help push innovation, and help individual investors to get involved in these innovations.