300 People Collaboratively Build Local Donation-Funded Solar Project

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Originally published on 350.org.

RE-volv is pleased to announce the completion of its first solar project, made entirely possible by individuals who care about renewable energy and climate change, and seek to positively impact the environment with their dollar.

300 people from 26 states and 5 countries came together and donated to make our first solar installation possible. (Check out a video of the install above!)  Thanks to our supporters, the nonprofit Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, CA is now entirely powered by the sun!  The 10kW project will not only save the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center thousands on their electrical bill, but their lease payments will be reinvested to finance four additional solar energy projects.

The idea behind RE-volv is simple: Let’s all get together, chip in a few bucks, and create a society powered by renewable energy. RE-volv, a nonprofit organization, finances local community-based solar projects through the Solar Seed Fund—a revolving fund for solar projects that raises money through crowdfunding.

We are fueled by the dedication of the local communities we serve and the global community alike, to accelerate the renewable energy movement. As we move forward onto our second project (to be announced in the coming weeks), we invite you to join the movement!

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4 thoughts on “300 People Collaboratively Build Local Donation-Funded Solar Project

  • Interesting concept…i like that the initial funding for the installation is the crowd-funded, non profit piece…but then the dance studio still pays on a lease…which then funds other projects. It will be interesting to see how this model pays out in the long run. I can see this working well for community projects – put solar on the roof of the boys and girls club, local church, etc, but the fact that the non-profit has to pay it back feels weird.

    • Its a pay it forward idea. The electric bill for the non-profit (NP) greatly reduced. So NP pays forward that saving until the panels/hardware cost is covered. Since the labor was donated the system cost is just the hard costs and inspections.That is a big savings. And the NP had no up front cost.

      • It just feels like a community funded PPA…where, when the NP pays the lease back, the funds instead of going to the “investors” (donors in this case) as would happen with a mosaic portfolio investment, it goes to the “other” NP…Re-volv with whom the initial investors likely have no vested interest.

        I guess what I’m thinking is that say I wanted to put a solar system on my local community center and crowd funded the money for it…that gives them a paid for system with free power ongoing. If we raise that money through re-volv, my local NP gets minimal benefit from it as they have to pay the whole thing back anyways… This system depends on people giving to perpetuate solar installations out of pocket vs donating to support a local non profit…I suppose that’s the gap for me…it just feels odd

        • Yeah, but the payment rate is likely better than what could have been obtained in the commercial market.

          I think it makes a lot of sense for the contributors. They’re starting a chain of systems rather than funding only a single installation.

          I tried starting something like this with cycle rickshaw drivers in Myanmar some years back. Purchase some bikes, ‘rent to own’ them to drivers who normally rent their equipment. Use the rental income to purchase more bikes. Charge enough overall so that the number of rentals could grow over time.

          What the drivers were currently paying would have more than paid off a bike in a year. Setting it up as a lower cost two year rental would mean increased money in the drivers’ pockets up front and ownership after two years.

          Wasn’t able to find locals to run the program. It was before the country had opened up and too many people were afraid to attract governmental attention.

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