Guest post from Andreas Karelas of Re-volv.
RE-volv just a few days ago launched its first crowdfunding campaign for community-based solar energy on Indiegogo, accessible at www.solarseedfund.org. After being blogged about by our friends at Solar Mosaic, tweeted about by Bill McKibben, and featured in an article on Clean Technica our crowdfunding campaign has taken off. With just a week into the campaign, we’ve already raised more than half of our goal.
350.org’s Do the Math Tour asks people and institutions to divest from fossil fuels. As more people divest from fossil fuels if we can increasingly invest in renewable energy, we could create a very powerful dynamic and signal for change.
RE-volv is a nonprofit organization empowering people to invest collectively in renewable energy. RE-volv has started a revolving fund for community-based solar energy called the Solar Seed Fund. Here’s how it works: The Solar Seed Fund raises donations through crowdfunding to finance solar installations on community-serving organizations such as schools, universities, hospitals, and places of worship. RE-volv recoups the cost of the solar installation and earns a return on the investment through a 20-year solar lease agreement. The lease payments go back into the Solar Seed Fund allowing the fund to continuously grow and finance an expanding number of solar installations. The communities RE-volv serves save money on their electric bill and are able to showcase solar energy to their community members.
What’s exciting about this model is that each person’s donation isn’t just for one solar energy system. A donation in the Solar Seed Fund is like planting a seed for solar energy. Each solar energy system we install produces a dramatic return on its investment and is able to finance an additional three solar energy systems over the course of the lease. When RE-volv has many installations up and running, the revenues will produce more and more solar systems each year, which bring in more revenues creating a self-sustaining ever expanding renewable energy fund.
Solar is now cost effective. It pays for itself over time and can be a profitable investment. RE-volv’s unique revolving fund model, rather than generating returns for investors, reinvests the returns it earns in the revolving fund allowing it to grow exponentially.
This way, people who donate get a tax deduction, are making a meaningful impact in reducing carbon emissions, are spurring the renewable energy industry, and are educating countless communities about the benefits of solar. We can use this movement to demonstrate that people are willing to support renewable energy in the United States out of their own pockets as part of a collective effort with lots of people chipping in a little bit.