Foundations can help disadvantaged communities get access to renewable energy, particularly reliable solar energy with battery backups, can be the work of foundations. That’s according to a new report from the nonprofit Clean Energy Group and the Kresge Foundation, which show strategies the philanthropic community can use to help grow solar and storage.
Groups are helping solar power reach more low-income people. But solar and energy storage technology systems together are currently mostly being used in high-cost commercial markets, Clean Energy Group said. The organization added that the combined technologies have barely reached low-income neighborhoods that could benefit from lowered energy costs while reducing harmful pollution emissions.
“This is a critical time for philanthropy to support community energy resilience in ways that harness market forces while acknowledging the market’s limitations,” said Clean Energy Group Senior Finance Director and report co-author Robert Sanders. “Risk-reducing capital investments and market-enabling grants form a powerful stimulus that’s essential for growing solar+storage in low-income communities.”
The report "A Resilient Power Capital Scan: How Foundations Could Use Grants and Investments to Advance Solar and Storage in Low-Income Communities” found that the cost drops in solar as well as storage are making them more viable as tools to reduce energy costs and while providing energy security. The report was commissioned by The Kresge Foundation, the Surdna Foundation and The JPB Foundation.
The report explained the five key market barriers for such projects, including overcoming financing gaps, lack of advocates and public officials to support such projects, insufficient data and capacity to reach low-income markets and inadequate regulatory policies.
“These barriers are real but surely surmountable with the right policies and investments,” said Clean Energy Group President and report co-author Lew Milford. “More than 50 recommendations in the report create a philanthropic roadmap to moving past these hurdles and integrating solar+storage projects throughout low- and middle-income (LMI) communities.”
The report also proposed more than 50 ways socially-minded investors can target those barriers. It was produced with input from more than 30 industry, NGO, and foundation leaders.Tweet