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.

 by Aishani Mishra - Solarplaza

#1. Windcentrale

Image: Windcentrale

Image: Windcentrale

Launch: 2010
Country: The Netherlands
Money Raised: ~14.3 Million Euros
Average ROI: 7%
Model:  Investors raise capital to acquire windmills and use energy generated to power their households.

Launched in 2010, Windcentrale has raised up to 14.3 Million Euro up untill today, making it the world’s biggest renewable energy crowdfunding platform. The record breaking project that raised 1.3 million euro in 13 hours (!) was just one of its many endeavours. The model it operates under is fairly simple: money is raised by private individuals on the platform to acquire windmills; each investor becomes an owner; and, thus, reaps the (financial) benefits. On average, every investor receives about 500 kWh per year, enough to take care of their energy bills for the next 12-15 years. With financial returns of 7% (if energy prices continue to increase at 3% annually), investing with Windcentrale is highly appealing. The platform aims ‘to accelerate the switch to sustainable energy in The Netherlands’ and surely they have - within their short four year span - made themselves a household name in the world of crowdfunding.

Want to read more about Windcentrale?

Website: www.windcentrale.nl

Dutch Wind Turbine Purchase Sets World Crowdfunding Record (Renewable Energy World)
How crowdfunding could revolutionize solar (GigaOM)
The Dutch Set a New World Record for Crowdfunding Clean Energy  (Mosaic)

PS: Meet Harm Reitsma, founder of Windcentrale, at the Renewable Energy Crowdfunding Conference


#2. Abundance Generation

Image: Abundance Generation

Image: Abundance Generation

Launch: 2009
Country: United Kingdom
Money Raised: ~8 million Euros
Average ROI: 7.25%
Model: investors receive percentage of the revenue or profit generated from the sale of the electricity produced by the project.

Though launched in 2009, Abundance Generation’s platform actually began operations in 2012, after a long process to become the first crowd funding platform to be authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority. Abundance Generation allows investors to put their money in many different types of alternative energy projects in the UK. The platform enables investors to start putting in money from the age of 18 and up. Well known for its investing model - allowing people to lend as little as 5 Pounds - the platform has raised approximately 8 Million Euro today. Investors can expect up to 8.6% of financial returns with debentures that last for 20 years. Taking a different approach than Windcentrale, investors don’t receive energy benefits, but money straight into their pockets. The investors get a claim on a percentage of the revenue or profit generated from the sale of the electricity produced by the project. Although the platform currently primarily operates in the area of renewable energy, they aim to venture into social needs and ethical benefits in the future.

Want to read more about Abundance Generation?

Website: www.abundancegeneration.com

Abundance Generation invents democratic finance (The Guardian)
Abundance Generation sets new green crowdfunding record (BusinessGreen)
Abundance:small business,big idea (the Guardian)

P.S: Meet Bruce Davis,one of the founders of this platform at the Renewable Energy Crowdfunding Conference


#3. Mosaic

Image: Mosaic

Image: Mosaic

Launch: 2013
Country: United States of America
Money Raised: ~6.3 Million Euros
Average ROI: 5%
Model: investors receive percentage of the revenue or profit generated from the sale of the electricity produced by the project.

Launched in 2013 , Mosaic has made more than 6 Million euro in a very short span of time. The platform operates similarly to Abundance energy, providing investors with returns generated through the sale of the solar energy generated by the project.  The company functions like a virtual renewable energy bank, soliciting investments for solar projects and giving out loans that are to be paid back, typically, over about 10 years. The platform allows investors to invest from $25 on and provides them with returns of an average of 5%. The platform has become a major player in its own right in the solar PV market where more and more investors have become interested in crowd financing models for their solar projects. It has drawn a lot of attention from the media, and is usually being refferred to as the ‘kick starter’ for solar (for instance, by well known ‘techie blog , TechChrunch).  The platform is well known as the first US online marketplace for solar and is seen to be rapidly growing in the sector with many upcoming projects. Currently only investors from New York and California are able to participate, but the platform aims to enable investors from other states to be part of their success.

Want to read more about Mosaic?

Website: www.joinmosaic.com

Is crowdfunding the future of solar financing? (The Motley Fool)
Solar Mosaic Raises $2.5 Million Series A To Be The “Kickstarter For Solar” (TechCrunch)
Startup Launches Online Platform To Let Individuals Invest In Solar projects (Forbes)

P.S :Meet Gregory Rosen , the Chief Investment Officer of Mosaic Inc at the Renewable Energy Crowdfunding Conference


#4. Trillion Fund

Country:United Kingdom
Money Raised: ~1.4 Million Euros
Average ROI: 7.98%
Model: investors receive percentage of revenue or profit generated from sale of the electricity produced by the project


Trillion Fund was founded in 2011 and has the ambitious aim to collect 1 Trillion Dollars globally, the amount of money required to invest in clean energy projects globally. The platform allows customers to choose the projects they would like to invest in from various other energy enterprises and developers. Projects are in areas of wind,solar,hdro and biomass. The peer to peer lending platform was publicly launched in June 2013 and has reached a whopping 7000 user base. Apart from peer to peer lending, the platform allows users to back projects by bonds, debentures and shares in local cooperatives and fund. Trillion Fund is unique in the way that it doesn't only provide projects solely available by them but projects by companies like Abundance Generation and E2 Energy providing users with a large directory of projects to choose from.Similar to other platforms, the investors receive monetary benefits from the electricity sold from the renewable energy project .The platform has merged with Buzzbnk recently, a platfrom for social entrepreneurs and aims to achieve 500 Million Pounds by end of 2017.Interestingly the platform has generated approximately 1 Million Euros in a short span of time and is definitely a platform to watch out for!

Want to read more about Trillion Fund?

Website: www.trillionfund.com

Trillion Fund launches UK's biggest crowdfunded eind energy project (Business Green)
Where normal people can invest and change the world (Microtask)
Trillion Fund and Buzzbnk announce merger to create UK's biggest social crowdfunding platform (Social Enterprise UK)

P.S. : Meet Julia Groves, Managing Director of Trillion Fund and Associate Director of UK Crowdfunding Association at the renewable Energy Conference


#5. GenCommunity

Image: GenCommunity

Image: GenCommunity

Launch: 2013
Country: United Kingdom
Money Raised: ~1256 K Euros
Average ROI: No data
Model: Investors earn money on energy sold from the projects their financed and communities with limited resources benefit from the electricity provided.

The GenCommunity platform launched in 2013, has only had two projects so far but has raised around 1 Million Pounds with these two projects. Their aim is to develop and invest in socially beneficial projects that build community knowledge and resilience, alleviate fuel poverty, and support the sustainability and security of UK energy supplies. The platform allows investments for solar PV projects across UK with returns of an average of 7% and 30% electricity saving per annum which approximately saves 12.000 pounds per annum. The platform aims to help communities that are in ‘fuel poverty’ and don’t have resources to overcome their obstacles by enabling investors to lend capital for these projects. The model is a win-win system where investors receive capital rewards and communities receive energy benefits. The platform has received the British Renewable Energy Award in 2013 for their contributions.


Want to read more about GenCommunity?

Website: www.gen-community.co.uk

GenCommunity project to tackle fuel poverty  (Social Enterprise UK)
Solar co-op closes share offer after raising £450,000 from 98 investors (Blue and Green tomorrow)

Honourable mention: Solar Schools

Image: Solar Schools

Image: Solar Schools

Launch: 2011.
Country: United Kingdom
Money Raised: ~511K Euros
Average ROI:No data
Model: Communities fund projects for the local schools and receive payments through FITs and schools benefit from energy generated through the project.

Solar Schools is an initiative to install PV panels of the rooftops of schools across England and Wales. The platform allows parents, teachers and local communities to fund as little as 5 Pounds to install PV panels on the roofs of local schools. So far, 50 schools have joined the scheme and 25 have installed their solar panels. A further 15 will start crowdfunding in October. Solar Schools is run by carbon cutting campaign 10:10. Schools receive Feed in Tariffs from the energy generated by their panels and receive energy benefits from the panels as well, guaranteed up to 20 years. This scheme has developed energy consciousness amongst the youth and has bought communities closer and more importantly have raised over 511.000 Euros.

Want to read more about Solar Schools?

Website: www.solarschools.org.uk

Power to the Pupils (Dept. of Energy and Climate change UK) 
Solar Schools Create Educational Opportunities In UK & Cut Costs (Clean Technica)
Ten reasons to apply for solar schools (10:10 Global)

Curious to learn more about this topic and actually meet several of these visionary companies? Consider attending the Renewable Energy Crowdfunding Conference in London on the 30th of October. Harm Reitsma (CEO & Founder of Windcentrale, this overview’s #1), Bruce Davis (Managing Director & Co-Founder of Abundance, the #2) and Greg Rosen (Chief Investment Officer of Mosaic, the #3), as well as experts from the European Crowdfunding Networking, Citizenergy, BNRG Renewables and 1-to-3 Capital will give keynotes and share their experience and vision. 
For more information and registration, please visit the website: http://www.recrowdfunding.eu/