Solar street light campaign kicks off for Cambodia

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Fosera Lighting, a spin-off company from Singapore’s Solar Energy Research Institute (SERIS), began a crowdfunding campaign earlier this month to use solar energy to bring street lights to three villages in the Kimpong Chhanang Province of Cambodia. The campaign hopes to raise $33,500 for the lights and there are 12 days remaining to make contributions.

Fosera has developed an integrated solar powered street and community light, called the Commlight.

Commlight utilizes solar cells in combination with lithium iron phosphate batteries, LED technology and an energy management system. Fosera Lighting claims that this makes Commlight a "long lasting … low cost" solution. The company began operations this month.

Fosera hopes to raise $33,500 for its campaign, yet as of the writing of this report, it had only raised around $4,500 over the indiegogo crowdfunding platform. Even if the project does not reach its funding goal, it will still receive all the funds pledged.

The project can be supported on the indiegogo site here.

The crowdfunded project hopes to provide lighting for the villages Kraing Learve, Toek Laak and Trapaing Kravann. "The street lights will be placed around the areas of the village wells, schools, healthcare centers, temples and cross roads to promote safety and security after sunset," said Robert Haendel, Founder and CEO of Fosera Lighting, in a statement announcing the campaign.

In the release, Keo Phonn, a local farmer, said that the street lights will help with avoiding attacks from poisonous animals, reduce the risk of rape and prevent motor accidents.

Growing crowdfunding in PV

Crowdfunding is becoming more common within solar, particularly within the offgrid space. The U.S.-based Sierra Club worked with SunFunder to raise $15,000 to provide ReadySet Solar Kits for mobile phone charging and lighting for households in Uganda. SunFunder alone has raised $120,000 for eight projects. It claims that all the projects will provide electricity solutions to around 40,000 people.

In a post on the greentechmedia website, the Sierra Club’s Justin Guay wrote that crowdfunders can fill the financing gap in providing offgrid solutions and solar arrays for communities that may struggle with traditional lenders. Guay also argued that small crowdfunders are far more effective in providing electricity solutions than traditional institutions like the World Bank.

"It’s clear that crowdfunding-specific products are needed. These could be funds that match money raised from the crowd, or loan guarantees that can help unleash capital for local entrepreneurs," wrote Guay. "This marries the nimble ability of crowdfunders to support small-scale projects with the larger pools of capital the development institutions can tap into without forcing them to engage in small scale-projects directly."

Outside of the offgrid space, California’s Solar Mosaic has been effective in providing crowdfunded finance for solar installations. At the Intersolar Trade Show earlier this year, in San Francisco, pv magazine learned that for the first time Solar Mosaic is now offering variable returns to investers into some photovoltaic arrays – truly an industry first. In his greentechmedia piece today, Guay also notes that Milaap and Abundance Generation are both turning to the crowd to fund renewable development.