Crowdfunding aims to prove that solar power is a bankable sector

Last year, $244bn (£149bn) poured into global renewable investments. But only a tiny amount of that trickled down to where it is needed the most – to provide power to the two billion people without access to energy. The UN’s goal of universal access to modern energy by 2030 will require an annual investment of up to $41bn a year. Progress to date has been slow, to say the least.

Over the past year, a new model has emerged which blends the crowdfunding entrepreneurship of Kickstarter with the social enterprise ofKiva. Ryan Levinson conceived of SunFunder, an off-grid solar financecompany, during a trip to South East Asia after quitting his job at a US bank. During this trip he began to hear repeated stories about lack of access to capital to fund solar projects.

“With my background in energy finance on US solar energy projects I could see how access to finance can really open up the market,” he said. “Financing is a challenge for the clean energy industry all over the world but there are regions without electricity that are best suited to distributed solar power. But who is going to finance this transformation of a market where 1.3 billion people have limited or no access to electricity?

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