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Crowdfunding Solar Power in Communities

The People’s Solar works to empower its local community in Australia to build community-scale renewable energy through local funding.

Photo of Selina McPherson
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Money is donated as a tax deductible gift or invested for a financial and social return. The more that is donated, the more can be reinvested in the community over time.

Step One:
Lots of people give a little, either as tax deductible donations or as a financial investment.

Step Two:
The solar panels are paid for and installed by The Peoples’ Solar.

Step Three:
A little goes a long way, with savings on energy bills reinvested in your community for 25 years.

To see a video outlining their first ever project with The Castlemaine Childcare Center, click here.

23 comments

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Awesome share, Selina. Oh those savvy Australians! We're not doing to badly across the ditch here either: https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/research/solar-schools-supporting-communities :^)

Photo of Selina McPherson

Love that Meena! What's in the water down there? ;)

Photo of Tosh Szatow

Hi Selina, I see things have moved on to the Ideas phase - do we automatically get included in that? or do I need to load up our projects? All the best and happy 2015!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Hey Tosh! You'll need to add them over on our Ideas phase: http://ideo.pn/rr-ideas plus check out our themes: https://openideo.com/blog/rr-welcome-to-ideas We're excited about what you'll come up with...

Photo of Tosh Szatow

Thanks Meena! Have uploaded now. Let's see where it goes :)

Photo of Selina McPherson

Great Tosh! Looking forward to seeing your awesome ideas :)

Photo of Philip Balliet

This is a great idea, reminds me of the promising work being done by Mosaic here in California, where individuals can crowd-invest as little as $25 to launch solar projects. For a resource: https://joinmosaic.com/

Photo of Joanna Spoth

Great post and can't wait to see what this inspires moving into the Ideas phase, especially around the "Break the Bank" Opportunity Area.

Photo of Jes Simson

Oh wow, what an incredible project. This is a really interesting business model - using solar as a revenue generator which can then be used to fund community projects.

Photo of Selina McPherson

I agree! Such an interesting model!

Photo of Tosh Szatow

Hi Selina, Tosh here from the People's Solar! I got sent a link to this from Michael Williamson over at the UN. Let us know what we can do to help out with this. All the best, Tosh

Photo of Meena Kadri

Hey Tosh – awesome to have you join us here on OpenIDEO. We'd love to learn more about what you've found most surprising, challenging and successful as you've rolled this out. Feel free to create a new post here on OpenIDEO with some insights on this (personal quotes or stories about end users are welcome!) or chime in here if you're pressed for time. And keep up the fab work at People's Solar!

Photo of Tosh Szatow

We have been really inspired by the "I get it" moments - when people realise solar power makes financial sense, and that we can use solar projects to support broader goals - from training and education, food security programs and more. The only real challenge has just been getting it all up and running without any external financial support, but we feel like we've got the bones of something we can scale now.

We have over 100kW of projects in the pipeline, with projects primarily being structured to support food security and social justice goals.

The key to making this work I think, is to get people seeing "people's solar" projects as an amplifier for good things that are already going on - i.e. not trying to reinvent the wheel or start new programs - just increasing the flow of money into things that are working, and using solar projects to create a long-term source of financial support - compared to the year-to-year grants that are so often not enough...

Photo of Meena Kadri

Cheers for the gold insights, Tosh!

Photo of Selina McPherson

Hi Tosh,

Thank you for reaching out and for your insights. You have created a really interesting impact-driven model, congratulations! I am personally really curious about some of your other projects in food security and social justice. If you or someone on your team wants to, maybe you could share some basics of those projects with the open-ideo community to help stir up some more ideas?

I hope we get to hear more from you on OpenIdeo. I think you could contribute so much to this challenge!

Thanks again!

Selina

Photo of Selina McPherson

And Meena, thanks for popping in here with great questions! :)

Photo of Tosh Szatow

Hi Selina, we have a project going live soon where $30,000 of donations to solar, will save over $5,000 per year on energy bills - this will be invested to create training and employment opportunities for social housing tenants, often people coming out of homelesless (a social justice/equity project). We have others we are working on around food security - a solar project that creates enough annual savings to support an organic farming scholarship for local kids in a regional community for example.

So really, it's the broader social/environmental outcome that drives our projects, not just the solar panels themselves.

Photo of Selina McPherson

Thank you so much for sharing some additional info around your projects, Tosh. Very inspiring work!

Photo of Cristian Romero

Regarding to what Tosh says and your idea Selina, I just saw the IDEO project for Human Centered Design Book on KickStarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/581125890/the-field-guide-to-human-centered-design?ref=nav_search. I think if you offer something in return, you could have a greater impact. And that's the think Tosh mention it.

I live in Colombia. What I see most important to do, is that the project could be done entirely as a private initiative. Unfortunately, in South America our corruption indexes are too high, so, I think through technology and a private supporter this could be great!

Photo of Selina McPherson

Hi Cristian, thank you so much for your input, and for sharing the kickstarter campaign!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Congrats on this post being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Damian Rainey

And something similar is happening on the U.S. West Coast: https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/research/more-crowdfunding-of-solar-power-oakland-solar-mosaic

Photo of Selina McPherson

Awesome Damian! Just may have found a clue relating to your post as well, it's in your comments!