googlead166c37c697d4d3.html Glenn Ashton Author Blog: Global warming: People power meets solar power in new experiment in funding


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Global warming: People power meets solar power in new experiment in funding

Another sign that the brightest minds in the USA are now turning their attention to fighting global warming in innovative ways comes from the experiment in crowdsourcing solar power:

What makes RE-volv unique is that they’re using crowdfunding to create a revolving fund for community solar installations. This fund is crucial in supporting the organization’s mission.

RE-volv uses a solar lease model for their community solar projects, and they get revenue from the lease payments. Because they fund projects through donations, rather than financing, RE-volv doesn’t have to pay back lenders. And being a nonprofit, they can invest their lease earnings in the next project. So the fund for their projects can keep growing.

RE-volv is currently crowdfunding for the final $10,000 needed to pay for their first solar project, thus launching the revolving fund. The campaign, which will run through January 20th, is being hosted on Indiegogo and can be accessed at

Based on current numbers, once 14 systems are in place, the annual revenues from those will generate a new system of the same size and cost. At some point that will equal two more systems a year, then three, and so on. The potential for the fund to grow is huge.

Empowering the 75%

RE-volv will take tax-deductible donations from anyone but is focusing in particular on people who care about renewable energy, who want to see more solar but can’t get it themselves. These people want to help start tangible projects that they can see in their community. And donations can be of any amount, which allows even those on a budget to participate.

Although donors don’t get a return on investment in the usual sense, Karelas likes to think they get a different kind of return. And it’s a substantial one: “If you donate $10, through the revolving fund that becomes $30 to invest in the next project. So you’re looking at a 300% return on money invested -- not for yourself, but for more solar projects. If you donate $25 now, over the 20-year lease period that turns into $100 that you’ve invested in solar.” This can be especially empowering for those who can’t afford more than a small donation.

Empowering communities

RE-volv hopes to put solar on community centers that have a reach, in order to educate as many people as possible in the area about solar. In addition to nonprofits, Karelas is looking at coops that own their own space and serve as a community center -- and even condo complexes. For the most part, RE-volv is working with a niche market that’s neither residential nor commercial. 

These organizations may have a hard time finding a solar lease partner, and RE-volv can provide the solution for them.

And lets hope thousands of other entrepreneurs follow in their footsteps. That way, millions of ordinary earthlings can help save our earth from climate change peril.


  1. Great story Glenn, I hadn't heard about RE-volv yet. It sounds like a good step in the right direction. We need some initiatives in alternative power. I know other countries (Germany I think) have some good solar programs.

  2. Donald, an interesting concept: harnessing crowdpower through donations to finance ordinary people's reduction of global warming efforts.

    I would expect to see explosive growth in this type of funding in most Western countries once the message sinks in that global warming is real, is dangerous, and needs to be fought.


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