Investment Fund Brings Energy to Remote AreasBy Cas Biekmann | Thu, 08/19/2021 - 12:54
R.I.S.E. Artisan Fund, an investment fund focusing on sustainable startups, is contributing with a loan to Iluméxico, supporting the company’s mission to provide solar energy to remote Mexican fishing communities.
R.I.S.E. estimates that about 500,000 Mexican homes do not have access to electricity. For this reason, polluting diesel engines and costly energy sources are their only solutions. The reason for this lack of access to electricity distribution is isolation: some communities live in such remote areas that the grid does not reach their homes.
Iluméxico focuses specifically on these communities that are often too small to be on the radar for large-scale transmission and distribution investments. It designs, constructs and installs distributed generation (DG) solar systems that produce plenty of electricity for rural homes and businesses. The loan in question funds DG photovoltaic solar systems for fishermen in a small village in Baja California Sur. The electricity is important for the community’s refrigeration equipment, allowing its members to sell fresh fish on markets.
“The participation of investors like the R.I.S.E. Artisan Fund is critical to supporting social enterprises in Mexico and other emerging markets,” said Ted Levinson, Founder and CEO of Beneficial Returns, the investment fund that R.I.S.E. is participating in for this project. “Alleviating poverty while mitigating climate change is an urgent priority, and Iluméxico is on the front lines of that fight,” he continued.
Iluméxico reported it has installed systems totaling more than 4MW capacity. This translates roughly to energy in more than 2,000 communities for over 23,000 families. All this electricity is affordable, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
The capital available to social enterprises is growing as a result of a broader interest in green finance, said Mariuz Calvet, Director of Sustainability and Responsible Investment at Grupo Financiero Banorte to MBN.
“The pandemic has created a strong connection between people and what matters most to them. This includes a higher awareness of social and environmental issues. This immediate shift in global priorities brought on by COVID-19 has taken sustainability issues to a higher level.”
For developing countries like Mexico, the challenges to achieve sustainability while improving the outlook of the general population in a cost-effective manner can be challenging. Solar energy, however, provides a great platform for sustainable power production at competitive costs, especially in the sunny Mexican environment.
“Mexico has great solar radiation, which helps to spark interest in the technology. Outside of utility-scale applications, such as Aura Solar III, behind-the-meter installations below 0.5MW are growing in popularity and will be in greater use in the years to come,” said Ken Tsutsumi, Board Member & Solutions Sales and Marketing at Panasonic to MBN.