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众筹成小规模再生能源项目建设资金新来源

投资一个大规模的风力发电场,比投资那些小型多样的离网可再生能源项目要利润大的多。但是最近有一项报告却指出,如果没有这些小型的多样的离网项目,人类低碳能源的可持续发展将永远无法实现。

据估计,我们现在每年需要投入500亿美元,才能保证到2030年实现用电和干净厨房设施的普及。这些钱用传统模式的气候金融根本筹不到。

根据国际环境与发展学会IIED的报告,资金短缺是小规模再生能源项目发展的主要瓶颈,这些项目包括家用太阳能系统、小型电网、干净的厨房设施等。

Neha Rai是国际环境与发展学会的高级研究员和IIED报告的合著人,他指出,对于掌握气候资金的多国借款人和联合国机构来说,那些分散的项目并不值得投资。

Hanrahan是气候发展金融公司ClimateCare的CEO,对于离网项目在经济上不可行的理念,他认为是错误的。比如,家用太阳能项目的实施,在使人们获得能源的同时,也给其他低碳消费品带来了销售的机会。

Pamoja Life是ClimateCare在东非的项目之一。向那些贫穷的人销售低耗能高效率的烹调用炉,难度很大,因为他们觉得很贵,所以Pamoja Life先给他们提供了一条配电线路,以支持那些价格实惠的离网太阳能照明和其他低碳消费品,以及烹调炉子。

这样的做法分摊了产品的成本,Hanrahan说:"同样带来的还有非气候方面的好处,我们需要在气候之外考虑气候金融,类似于Pamoja Life的项目在为我们带来良性的发展,同时也改善了民众的健康状况"

ClimateCare运用这种多重效果说服投资人,使单个项目达到多个产出。比如,政府机构可能会因家用太阳能减少碳排放而投资,而私人公司则会因为孩子们因照明延长的学习时间而投资。

Hanrahan 说:"这样一来,你会得到好几个不相关的收益流,以此增加了项目的弹性,减少了商业投资者的风险,你甚至会得到不同货币的收益流,这样减少了货币的风险"。

Hanrahan认为,货币波动是分散能源项目的最大风险之一。小规模洁净能源公司通常使用外币贷款来进行可再生能源设备的大量采购。反过来又在当地进行销售,两种货币的不统一增加了小公司的潜在资金压力,使制定计划变得更困难。

Rai则认为,主要的出资人会帮助大多数离网项目成功,但是他们更愿意拨款而不仅仅是贷款。

目前,对于公共事业规模级的项目,气候融资人绝大数都会选择优惠贷款(以低于市场利率拨给低收入国家的贷款),这是种保证投资能短期收回的低风险做法。Rai说,补贴则可以启动那些分散的项目,帮助清洁能源项目提供初级的当地市场。在这之后,则轮到私有投资登场。

即使气候金融不奏效,但对于离网可再生能源这样的分散项目和SDG目标,并非毫无机会。比如,印度太阳能公司 Frontier Markets,与一些爱心团体合作,为分散项目提供低息贷款,使他们有资金获得当地银行的支持,同时也为销售太阳能产品的个人和公司提供贷款。

Ajaita Shah是Frontier Markets的董事长,他说:"我们也与拉贾斯坦邦的非盈利机构合作,他们得到了地方政府的拨款和发展资金,能形成循环贷款(还款后再次贷出),使得那些低收入妇女有能力购买我们的太能能产品"。

众筹是另外一个日益流行的草根清洁能源项目融资策略,尽管还不是特别成熟。WindAid Institute是一个美国注册的公益组织,在过去十年间致力于将分散的风力发电带到秘鲁的偏远社区,他们主要依赖于外国志愿者付费和临时性的捐助和拨款。他们最近在Kickstarter筹到了3万五千美元,以完成一个当地训练设施的建设。

他们只筹到了预期数目的三分之二。WindAid's 的发言人Beth Brown说:"Kickstarter的规则是如果达不到筹款目标,我们就一分钱融资都拿不到。但是很多支持者已经承诺愿意来捐款,所以我们已经得到了支持本月下个建设阶段的资金"。

Investing in a large-scale wind farm is a better guarantee of profits than multiple, small, off-grid renewables projects but without the latter, argues a recent report, the sustainable development goal of low-carbon energy access for all will never be met.

It is estimated close to $50bn a year is needed to achieve universal access to electricity and clean cooking facilities by 2030. Yet traditional forms of climate finance are not working.

The result, according to the report from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), is major bottlenecks in funding for many small-scale renewable energy services such as solar home systems, mini-grids and clean cooking facilities.

For the multilateral lenders and UN agencies which control the bulk of climate finance, decentralised projects are "just not as bankable", says Neha Rai, a senior researcher at IIED and co-author of the report.

But the idea that off-grid projects are not economically viable is misplaced, argues Edward Hanrahan, CEO of climate development finance firmClimateCare. The delivery of a domestic solar project, for example, also provides an opportunity to sell other low-carbon consumer products to people that now have energy access.

Take Pamoja Life, one of ClimateCare's investment projects in east Africa. It's difficult to make the sale of low-energy, efficient cookstoves economically attractive to very poor people, so Pamoja Life provides a distribution line for affordable, off-grid solar lighting and other low-carbon consumer products, alongside affordable cookstoves.

This approach helps spread the cost over a number of goods, says Hanrahan: "It also wraps in non-climate benefits too. We need to think about climate finance as being not just about climate. Something like Pamoja Life is delivering improved development and health impacts too."

ClimateCare has used this multiple impact argument with investors to give single projects several outcomes. A government agency might be interested in funding a household solar initiative for its impact on emissions reduction, for example, while a private corporation might put in money because of the extra study hours that children gain.

"As a result you've got a couple of uncorrelated revenue streams, which improves the resilience of the project and makes it less risky for commercial investors," says Hanrahan. "You can also have income streams in multiple currencies, thus reducing currency risk.

Currency volatility is one of the biggest risks for decentralised energy projects, says Hanrahan. Small scale clean-energy companies often take foreign-currency loans to finance the bulk purchase of renewable equipment. They, in turn, sell on locally and the mismatch between the two currencies imposes a potential stress on small businesses and makes planning more difficult.

Major funders can help make sure more off-grid projects are successful, argues Rai, through a greater willingness to make grants rather than just loans.

At present, climate financiers overwhelmingly opt for concessional loans (loans granted to low-income countries at below market interest rates) for utility-scale projects: a low-risk way of assuring short-term returns on their investments. Yet grants can kick-start decentralised projects, Rai says, helping create an initial local market for clean energy products and services. After that, the logic runs, private investment should begin to flow.

Even if carbon finance can't be made to work, all is not lost for off-grid renewable energy and the SDG target. Indian solar firm Frontier Markets, for example, is working with a number of philanthropic groups to create a low-interest loan which gives them the capital to access finance from local banks and in turn make loans to the people and businesses selling their solar products.

"We have also partnered with non-profits in Rajasthan that have been accessing local government grants and development grants to facilitate rotational loans [which are paid back into a fund to be loaned out again], which enable low-income women to buy our solar products," says Ajaita Shah, chief executive of Frontier Markets.

Crowdfunding is another increasingly popular financing strategy for grassroots clean energy, although not a particularly certain one. The WindAid Institute, a US-registered charity working for the past decade to bring decentralised wind-generated electricity to remote communities in Peru, relies primarily on income from fees paid by foreign volunteers, plus ad hoc donations and grants. The charity recently ran a $35,000 Kickstarter campaign to complete the construction of a local training facility.

Only about two-thirds of the requested amount was raised. "With Kickstarter, the all or nothing rule meant we got nothing," says WindAid's spokesperson Beth Brown. "But many backers have offered to convert to a donation so we already have enough funds to do the next stage of the build later this month."


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  • 刘奎在 2016/07/24 17:44回复

    开创了一个品类,未来有机会打造一个垂直化的专家品牌。

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