Crowdfunding as a novel financial tool for district heating projects

By District Energy posted 12-05-2018 10:59

  

TEMPO Project, Euroheat & Power

Summary

The district heating and cooling sector is in full evolution towards decarbonisation alongside an increasing share of renewable sources. This scenario entails new challenges above all from the point of view of the market. From a publicly-owned DHC sector, to new private-public partnerships and cooperative models, the future of district heating and cooling gives room to innovative financing schemes and business models able to deal with the need for an increasing leverage of private or alternative funding.

Infrastructure projects financing is harder in an even more limited public spending framework. Moreover, competition from gas and increasing energy efficiency measures which reduce heat demand, require finding the right investors. For all these reasons, it is time to look for new opportunities of stakeholders’ participation and cooperation. The solution is often represented by a greater engagement of end-users. Customers shouldn’t be considered anymore just as a simple demand-side variable but also as a community capable of creating sustainable business cases for district heating development.

The right answer to all this could be crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a form of alternative finance, which allows to fund a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, via web-based platforms. In the framework of an increasing lack of financing, crowdfunding can have a major role in adding new sources of finance, raising capital from diffused investors. The latter could accept a lower and a long term ROI in exchange of tangible social and environmental benefits (the so-called positive externalities in a more economic jargon).

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