Financing of energy efficiency through crowdfunding to support the citizens’ energy transition

A trend from the social network is also spreading more and more in the energy sector, the financing of projects or companies by the masses or ideally by the later users – crowdfunding. I had already reported on the financing of the EnergyDemocracy.TV magazine app and talked to Kirsten Hasberg about it several times in the podcast – the financing phase is still almost a week away and supporters are still being sought.

There are also special platforms for financing projects in the energy sector, especially in the photovoltaic sector. The largest of these new platforms comes from the USA. Mosaic has already invested more than 2 million dollars in solar projects. There are also corresponding platforms in Germany. The site is very reminiscent of the classic crowdfunding platforms, while LeihDeinerUmweltGeld reminds me more of the classic project financiers. Then Sunny Crowd is also in the starting blocks. What they all have in common is the financing of projects in the field of renewable energies.

Crowdfunding to finance energy efficiency

But what about energy efficiency? The technology is already there, only the initial investments are usually the biggest obstacle. Crowdfunding would also be an option as a form of financing. A group of five committed founders from Frankfurt am Main thought so too and set up bettervest, the first crowdfunding platform for energy efficiency. This week the beta phase begins at bettervest with the first project for selected users. It should really start in mid-June.

That sounds very interesting to me, so I wanted to know more about it. Ingo Birkenfeld from the founding team answered my questions to bettervest.

bettervest is the first crowdfunding platform for energy efficiency. Why energy efficiency and non-renewable energy?

There are at least three main reasons for this: First, the combination of crowdfunding and energy efficiency was the original idea for bettervest. High cost savings can ensure capital returns to the crowd without the subsidies and political dependencies seen with renewables. Secondly, crowdfunding platforms have been springing up like mushrooms in the last one to two years. And some of them are currently specializing in renewable energies, such as sunnycrowd. If in doubt, another crowdfunding platform in the field of renewable energies would slow down these platforms, which are also very good. We don’t want that.

But bettervest works in parallel with these platforms on the citizens’ energy transition. This brings us to the third and perhaps most important reason: In order for this citizens’ energy transition to actually work, it is not enough to just rely on renewables. The criticism is often justified: high costs, storage problems for excess solar energy, etc. With bettervest, there is now the first and currently only platform that tackles the second pillar of the energy transition: increasing energy efficiency in Germany.

Who is the target group, which projects should be supported?

On the project side, small and medium-sized companies, municipalities and associations are our target group. If they want to convert their lighting system to energy-efficient, long-lasting LEDs, bettervest can be an alternative for financing. Very important: Energy efficiency projects are basically not greenwashing projects. So there is no subsequent beautification of wasted energy or resources. bettervest only supports projects that help to reduce Co2 emissions directly at the point of origin.

What are the project requirements? Can anyone apply?

It is important for the projects that they are sustainable and at the same time economical, ie that the investments are recouped within a few years. And if that is the case, companies, municipalities and associations can apply to bettervest with their energy efficiency projects.

Who determines the savings potential of the funded measures?

Ideally, an independent energy consultant has already calculated and confirmed the savings potential of the energy efficiency measure. There are also empirical values ​​for the various energy efficiency technologies used. For example, it is quite realistic that lighting a shop can save more than 60% of the electricity.

Is it ensured that the planned efficiency goals are actually achieved?

We check the submitted energy report again for plausibility and also the creditworthiness of the project owner in order to offer the crowd a maximum of security. With LED projects, the energy efficiency targets can in principle be calculated on a one-to-one basis. A 30 watt LED lamp consumes half as much energy as a 60 watt fluorescent tube, for example, with a similar luminous intensity.

Should the measures implemented be transparently documented?

bettervest contractually obliges the project owner to submit all necessary documents, such as energy bills, so that everything is traceable. Information about the project should be made available regularly on the platform for the crowd during the contract period. We want to achieve maximum transparency in the implemented measures. The crowd should know exactly what positive effects their commitment has on our climate, how much energy and CO2 is saved. That is exactly the big advantage of crowdfunding: citizens are involved in social challenges and they can have a direct say.

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