1st crowdfunding campaign with LUMO for the local semi public company SERGIES!

Du solaire sur Abaux

Solar tiles on the Abaux Company warehouses in La Trimouille (Vienne) © Lumo France

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SERGIES, one of the companies of the ÉNERGIES VIENNE Group, and the crowdfunding platform Lumo opened two production sites for renewable energy to citizen investment on November 28. The campaign ended on February 16 2015 with €150,000 eco-invested by 250 people, 40% of whom are from the Poitou Charente region, close to the installations. An overview of the 11-week campaign.

Saving online in a collective solar project: innovation at the service of general interest

Lumo and SERGIES announced the signature of their partnership in the course of the Green Growth and Eco Industry fair in Poitiers on November 6. The target: to open around 20% of the financing of two solar photovoltaic projects to citizens. 3 weeks later, Internet users could discover the projects, “Du solaire sur Abaux” (Solar energy in Abaux) and “La ferme de la Voie rayonne” (The Voie farm is radiant), and invest a share of their savings.

The respective budgets of these two 1,700 m² installations were of 430,000 and 440,000 Euros respectively. Internet users were invited to invest in these projects to replace part of the bank loan already granted by the Crédit Coopératif. They could therefore base their decision on the bank’s financial analysis before making the online savings.

The participation was of €25 minimum by subscribing to SERGIES bonds, a savings product with the same conditions as a bank loan (rate and length) and enjoying the same guarantees from the bank. The interest rate is of 3.10% gross/year over 15 years, with an annual payment of interest and of a part of the invested capital.

Thus, the citizens who made their savings “work” in these solar projects contribute to producing green energy which will provide electricity to over 200 homes every year (excluding hot water and heating).

A “U-shaped” crowdfunding campaign

A strong mobilization at the beginning of the campaign, even stronger at the end, but weaker in the middle. As for most of the crowdfunding campaigns, the fund raising followed a u-shaped line characterized by a spectacular increase in the last week.

The people who were impatiently waiting for the project to open to citizen savings responded to the invitation as soon as the campaign started. Local newspaper articles, as well as the information letter of the Poitou Charentes Region have reinforced the dynamism of this launch.

The “calm” period in the middle was also accentuated by the end of year celebrations and the dramatic events at the beginning of January. And finally, the final stretch of the campaign was “explosive” with over 42% of the total amount collected during the last week.

The project of the “Ferme de la Voie Rayonne” even beat records over the last three days with more than €30,000 eco-invested or over a third of the total portion of citizen investment in this solar project!

Result: €150,000 in direct savings for green energy

As a result, after 11 weeks, €150,000 out of the possible €170,000 had been invested by 250 ordinary pioneers of energy transition (POTE). Whether discovering or already convinced by alternative solutions, they eco-invested between €25 and €2,000 in the projects. The average eco-investment is about €500 and the median participation is €200. The average saver profile: a man in his 40s, living in town (see the infographics of savers to know more).

Out of the €80,000 of crowdfunding dedicated to the project “Du solaire sur Abaux”, 100% were collected through fundraising. 75% of the €90,000 necessary for the project “La ferme de la Voie rayonne” were collected in the same way. The Crédit Coopératif bank will adjust the agreed loan to the latter in order to complete the financing.

The Poitou-Charentes Region has supported this crowdfunding initiative for renewable energies through its Fonds Régional d’Excellence Environnementale (local environmental Excellency fund). Within the framework of this fund it adds one Euro to the crowdfunding for each Euro invested by a Poitou Charentes citizen.

Regional governments, local public companies: why turn to crowdfunding?

As early as 2008, the Vienne inhabitants informed SERGIES of their desire to contribute to the realization of renewable energy projects developed in their neighborhoods.

The aim of the partnership between the local mixed economy company and Lumo was to facilitate the mobilization of citizens by allowing them to invest in two solar projects developed in La Trimouille and Dienné, two small towns in the Vienne region.

Emmanuel Julien, CEO of SERGIES, confirms this: “Thanks to Lumo, mobilizing citizen investments for production sites for renewable energy is simple and accessible to all”.

There is a twofold interest to this method: creating a strong sense of belonging by making the neighbors actors of the (sustainable!) development of their territory and increasing their awareness of the importance of energy transition.

Thierry (Charente Maritime) has been investing in the SERGIES solar projects. He explains what motivated his contribution: “I really like to know where my money is going. Knowing that it will be used in the area I live in to help people carry out projects which are going to create employment near home; reducing the carbon footprint for our territory and leading it towards energy transition". 

Just like Thierry, nearly 41% of the people who contributed to financing the SERGIES projects live in Poitou-Charentes, the region in which the solar roofs were installed. Among them, 40 eco-investors live in the Vienne department. It was important for SERGIES to encourage local contribution in these projects developed near home. This is now done!