Online crowd funding is being harnessed to build a solar power field and bring solar energy to the Galápagos, helping to wean the iconic islands off of the need to burn diesel fuel for electricity. Energiya Global, an Israel-based developer of solar projects worldwide, announced the launch of an internet campaign on indiegogo to install 1,200 solar panels on a former garbage dump in the Galápagos UNESCO World Heritage Site, located 900 km west of the Ecuadorean mainland.
“With your help, we will reduce the oil dependency of the Galápagos by building a green, clean solar energy field which will replace the burning of 20 barrels of oil every week – that means 147,000 liters a year,” said Captain Sunshine (aka Yosef Abramowitz, President of Energiya Global) in a video promoting the campaign. “I’m used to building large solar fields with equally large traditional investors, but this field is too small for them.Rest assured that any of our profits will be donated on your behalf to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galápagos.”
A longtime activist with a history of mobilizing the public, Abramowitz was recently named by CNN as one of the six leading Green Pioneers in the world. The campaign is hosted on the ROI Community page of Indiegogo.com.
Energiya Global develops affordable solar projects worldwide, from planning through to implementation, with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.
Upon the launch of the campaign, comedian Sarah Silverman publicly declared her support of the initiative – Tweeting that the project “make[s] sense” – and added prize offerings, including a Skype date, to the various contribution levels on Indiegogo.com. Energiya Global aims to raise $250,000 for the first stage of the environmentally-friendly mission. Once operational, the 300 kilowatt solar power field on San Cristóbal Island will supply clean energy to the Galápagos.
The Galápagos primarily relies on polluting diesel oil for electricity, which needs to be shipped across the ocean in heavy, also-polluting boats. This reliance on diesel oil embodies a grave threat to the environment and the animal species that live on the Galápagos. Such a catastrophe was realized in 2001 when the Jessica oil tanker scraped against the seabed en route to an oil port transfer station in the Galápagos, causing the boat to fill with water and capsize. 175,000 US gallons (660,000 liters) of diesel and fuel spilled into the sea, constituting one of the worst environmental disasters in the archipelago’s history.
As the Galápagos solar field will be on a much smaller scale compared to typical commercial-size installations, conventional financing channels are not available for the special-interest project. Abramowitz and Energiya Global identified crowd funding as the natural route to secure financing. The pioneering, global medium relies on the building of small, individual contributions to achieve a greater goal.
Any of Energiya Global’s profits ultimately derived from the solar field will be pledged to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galápagos. Looking ahead, the company plans future campaigns to help poor communities go solar throughout the world.