United PV embraces crowdfunding following stock market crash

Hong Kong-based solar farm operator United Photovoltaics Group is again turning to crowdfunding to raise capital following the recent Chinese stock market plunge.

Speaking to Bloomberg, United PV CEO Alan Li said the company planned to “distribute solar farms as bank products to thousands of households" through a concept of crowdfunding that would be “completed under the banking system.”

United PV, which saw its shares lose half their value since peaking in June, is hoping to complete its crowdfunding effort by the end of the year, Li said, who added that the company was in negotiations with several banks. The chief exec has declined to say how much United PV aims to raise or with which banks it is working.

United PV aims to acquire 1 GW of solar power plants this year, Li told Bloomberg. The company is also keen to buy PV projects in Europe, North America and Australia, he added.

Crowdfunding is not new to United PV, which early last year announced its intentions to use the popular contribution-based alternative financing model to develop its solar power business. The group went on to raise CNY 10 million ($1.58 million) for a 1 MW distributed solar power project in Qianhai, Shenzhen, marking the first crowdfunding effort for a PV project in China.

The company also partnered with China Development Bank last year to explore innovative financing models to support construction of large on-grid solar power plants and distributed solar power generation demonstration parks.

United PV offered an optimistic assessment last year on the integration of crowdfunding with the green economy and PV power in particular, arguing that it avoided “the potential risks witnessed in the Internet economy and at the same time will hasten the merging of the green economy with personal finance, enhance public awareness of environmental protection, promote growth of the environmental protection industry by leveraging on the efficiency of the internet and also fuel the industrialization and market reforms of the green economy under new economic conditions.”

Bloomberg pointed out that United PV is joining other Chinese companies, including Internet investment platform Solarbao.com, in crowdsourcing funds for solar projects and broadening the sector’s sources of financing.

China’s stock market plunged as much as 41% from June to its low point on Aug. 26. The Hang Seng Index is currently around 17% below what it was in June, while the Shanghai Composite Index is down 29%.

The dramatic downturn in China’s stock market "has affected the ability of many companies to raise financing," Li said.