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Is crowdsourcing the key to funding renewable energy in Asia?

A solar farm produces renewable energy in China

Throughout the Australasia region, government agencies are looking for new ways to stay ahead of the threat of an energy deficit and stave off the ill effects of climate change. One important way to solve these issues is through renewable energy sources, from solar farms to wind turbines. But while these alternatives are on their way toward mainstream acceptance, they do still have a long way to go. Until then, fundraising options like crowdsourcing could turn out to be an effective way to fund renewable energy pursuits and prove their importance to solving energy issues within the region.

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As CNBC reports, some entities like the government of South Australia have helped investors come onboard with the idea of renewable exploration by reframing it from a matter of environmental imperative to a matter of potential economic promise in the long run:

"We flipped it over to make it an investment proposition. Rather than focusing on the obvious and important question of climate change here, [we asked] is this a new economic driver? And it turns out that it is," said Dr. Paul Heithersay, deputy chief executive at the South Australian government's Department of State Development. "It's a very high-tech industry."

 

Meanwhile China is looking to the public to help fund renewable energy projects—with already some significant success. According to reports, last year Hong Kong-based company United Photovoltaics successfully raised 10 billion yuan (around $1.6 million) in China from a pool of 100 investors through crowdfunding, using those funds to build a 1 MW off-grid solar farm.

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Unived Photovoltaics already has plans to use crowdfunding again in the near future, and other Australasian businesses are as well—especially given the added bonus that crowdfunding has of showing quite clearly where the public’s interests lie by allowing them to vote with their wallets:

"Crowd-funding and community-funding are attractive for smaller scale distributed solar projects in China," advisory firm EY said in a report last year. "Investors can invest small amounts of capital for specific projects. Since financing is provided to individual projects, it provides developers a strong incentive to design and implement quality projects which in turn ensures an efficient use of capital."

 

The early success of crowdsourcing not only proves that it is a viable method for fundraising—it also proves where the public interest lies, which could prompt officials and private investors to give greater thought to providing their own funding in the future:

"The force of public opinion can't be ignored and the financial markets are dictating it," Australia's Heithersay said […] “Clearly, [there's]a very strong movement among the general populace that we want to invest in clean energy and they're all there out in force backing these companies that were probably a little bit before their time," he said.

 

Disruption and grassroots efforts are the way of the future, in the energy industry as much as any other. In this case, it could pave the way for a more sustainable and efficient energy system for Asia and Australia.

[SOURCE: CNBC]

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