Crowdfunding is trendy – And now it’s time to do it among renewable energy.
Looking at the Nordic crowdfunding scene with its major giants FundedByMe and Invesdor you won’t find any running campaigns that are related to sustainable products or services, let alone consumer energy solutions. We spoke to Jukka Kajan, the co-founder of Joukon Voima, Nordic’s first platform for crowdfunding renewable energy, which is about to begin its operations this autumn.
On the one side it seems that this sector is not explored, does not attract the interest of crowd financing or that renewable energy solutions should be brought to market by somebody “out there”, policy makers or giant corporations often pretending to innovate. On the other side, we believe that Finland and the Nordics have enough Elon Musks geeks and believers who are there for sustainable future and consumption.
Leaning on the crowd
Started out of a hackathon two and a half years ago, Joukon Voima is an effort put together by three young cofounders who have all been involved in the energy sector before. “We have identified that one of the biggest barriers preventing the development of renewable energy solutions in Finland is the fact that regular people are not involved in the energy business in any way. Nothing gets big without the crowd,” says Kajan.
Joukon Voima was created to give people an opportunity to invest in renewable energy solutions with loanbased crowdfunding; it works on pure maths you invest in a project (the minimum investment is €100) and you will get interest on your investment back. When more suitable, some projects will follow ordinary reward-based crowdfunding. Transactions are processed by Holvi, another Finnish startup pioneering the banking industry.
The team is aware that this minimum contribution size can still exclude part of the crowdfunding base and they are working on solutions to offer nonmonetary opportunities for the people to become part of the running projects.
Kajan’s big dream is making crowdfunding available for both sustainable production and consumption of energy say, bringing to market an electric car that is charged using solar. Just like Apple created much more than just a phone, in Joukon Voima’s reality green solutions are much more than just products – they are a lifestyle.
“I want to believe that if you have funded a solar power plant and drive an electric vehicle that is funded by the crowd, you will transform your behaviour. When you consume sustainable solutions regularly, it will become the lifestyle.”
Energy on community level
Finland’s national energy policies are not adjusted to the opportunities the latest technologies have brought. “We still live in this outdated world where centralized energy production is regarded the only proper solution for our energy issues,”, adds Kajan, “– instead, we must be exploring the potential of decentralized energy production and the power of local communities and resources.
The platform’s goal is therefore linking the communities and energy producers as not only sustainability but also economics and workforce are at stake. Currently the co-founders handpick and assess the potential projects on their own. The team sees huge potential in creative solutions that utilise top tech, local workforce and unused natural resources of Finland.
Joukon Voima will be launching their first case, a project about electric vehicles, later on this autumn, so stay tuned!