Crowdfunded project launched in Galápagos


Crowdfunding is emerging as an increasingly common tool for funding small to medium sized photovoltaic arrays. In the latest example Yosef Abramowitz, President of Israel’s Arava Power, has launched the campaign through his Energiya Global project, where he aims to develop photovoltaic projects in developing countries.

In a quirky twist, American comedienne Sarah Silverman has endorsed the campaign and is offering a "skype date" for contributors who contribute US$5,000. Adopting the crowdfunding model popularized through sites such as Kickstarter, Abramowitz has rolled out a series incentives for contributors from a “digital high five”, for investors contributing $18, up to naming rights, for a funder willing to stump up $54,000.

In total $250,000 is needed for the installation, which will employ 12,000 solar panels.

The aim is for the installation to break even after 15 years, through displacing diesel fuel, which is the predominant energy source on the Galápagos archipelago. An existing landfill site has been selected for the site and a 15 year lease signed with the municipality. Environmental approval has also been attained, from the Galápagos National Park.

Abramowitz has committed to returning any profits to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galápagos, on behalf of investors.

"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 Yosef Abramowitz, in a video promoting the campaign.

In the online material encouraging investors to support the Galápagos installation, the 2001 oil tanker "Jessica" wrecking and oil spill in the World Heritage Site was cited as an example of the environmental danger posed by diesel imports into the sensitive and iconic archipelago ecosystems.

Abramowitz has adopted the moniker "Captain Sunshine" for his crusade to see the wider adoption of photovoltaics. He was behind Israel’s first utility scale solar installation, the Ketura installation. Energiya Global aims to provide photovoltaic electricity to 50 million people by 2020. It is developing the first utility scale project in Rwanda and two projects in the Romania, worth 8 MW and 100 MW.