Featured Blog: An Interview with Filip Koprcina
This transcript is part of a series of Top Voice interviews brought to you by IBR Group International on the topic of sustainability. To learn more about our Top Voices in Sustainability interviews or to discover how you can contribute, please contact us directly.
Here's the transcript to the full interview:
Q1. Could you describe the vision and corporate mission of Energy Shift Europe? How long has the company been going for and describe what problems you are trying to solve?
Energy Shift is a blockchain powered platform that enables citizens to jointly invest in and co-own solar farms, thus democratising the energy sector while enabling citizens to actively participate in the energy transition to renewables. We envision a world where every individual, regardless of financial resources, can actively participate in, benefit from, and help accelerate the shift toward renewable energy. Founded in 2021, we recognized a fundamental problem that we aim to address: the pressing need to transition away from fossil fuels and conventional energy sources towards cleaner, renewable alternatives. However, this transition poses a twofold challenge.
First, there is a financial barrier that restricts average citizens' ability to invest in renewable energy projects. Second, there is a lack of awareness and accessibility when it comes to opportunities for such investments.
The core mission of Energy Shift is to address these challenges head-on, while becoming the biggest platform for funding of clean and renewable energy. We empower ordinary citizens to unlock the potential of renewable energy investments. By doing so, we create a financial inclusion opportunity, where people can invest from as low as 100 euros. This makes renewable energy investments accessible to a broader range of investors, not just large institutions or wealthy individuals. Energy Shift also recognizes the importance of raising awareness about renewable energy projects. Through our work, we aim to inform and educate people about the positive environmental and economic impacts of renewable energy investments. By addressing this knowledge gap, we seek to inspire and mobilize communities to actively engage in sustainable energy initiatives
Q2. Who or what inspired and challenged you to address this issue of energy democratisation?
My motivation to address the issue of energy democratization was fueled by my personal journey. A few years ago, I embarked on a mission to equip my parents' home with solar panels. The idea was to embrace clean energy, reduce our carbon footprint, and even generate surplus energy to contribute to the grid. However, the process was a labyrinth of administrative complexities and regulatory barriers. This endeavor, intended to be both eco-friendly and financially sustainable, quickly turned into a bureaucratic ordeal. I realized that my experience was not unique, and countless individuals and communities were deterred from participating in the clean energy transition due to these roadblocks. This realization ignited my commitment to tackle the challenges hindering energy democratization, making it simpler, more accessible, and inclusive for everyone. That is when I started Energy Shift.
Q3. What investment protections are there for the retail investor and how are you finding the challenge of teaching investors about specific investment products and the uptake of their use through apps?
We prioritize several key investment protections at Energy Shift. Transparency is a cornerstone of our approach. We maintain transparency in all investment opportunities, providing clear and comprehensive information about the projects, their financial structures, expected returns, and risks involved. Our goal is to ensure that potential investors are fully aware of the risks associated with their investments, including a clear explanation of the potential for loss and the risks associated with specific projects. We place a strong emphasis on legal compliance. All our investment products adhere to relevant legal and regulatory frameworks, ensuring compliance with consumer protection laws and securities regulations Diversification is another crucial element in our strategy. We encourage diversification of investments to mitigate risks. By offering a variety of projects and investment options, investors can spread their funds across different assets, reducing the impact of a single investment's poor performance.
To address the challenge of teaching investors about specific investment products, especially in the context of renewable energy, we provide educational resources and support. This includes webinars, FAQs, and guides on renewable energy investment. Our aim is to empower investors with knowledge, enabling them to make informed decisions.
The challenge of educating investors about specific investment products, especially in the context of renewable energy, lies in making the complex world of clean energy investment understandable. We overcome this challenge by simplifying the technical aspects and offering educational content in plain language. The aim is to make the benefits and impacts of these investments relatable and tangible to retail investors.
Featured Blog: Filip Koprcina (pictured)
Q4. So, according to your LinkedIn, you are going to be participating in several panel discussions over the course of the next fortnight. Can you explain to our readers how important these discussions are in the lead up to COP28? What is your position on the importance of COP28 more generally?
Participating in panel discussions in the lead-up to COP28 is of paramount importance in the global effort to address climate change. These discussions serve as crucial platforms for experts, thought leaders, and stakeholders to come together and share insights, strategies, and solutions. As COP28 approaches, these discussions play a vital role in setting the stage for the conference's objectives and outcomes.
The importance of COP28 cannot be overstated. It represents a critical juncture in our collective response to the climate crisis. The outcomes of COP28 will shape the global climate agenda and set the trajectory for future actions and policies. It is a pivotal moment for nations to come together and commit to more ambitious and effective measures to mitigate climate change, adapt to its impacts, and transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future. In light of the urgency of climate action, my position on the importance of COP28 is one of great significance. It is an opportunity for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to the Paris Agreement and to strengthen climate targets in line with the latest scientific evidence. As the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent, there is a growing consensus that swift, far-reaching action is required to limit global warming and prevent catastrophic consequences.
COP28 represents a critical chance to address pressing issues such as limiting global temperature rise, enhancing climate resilience, and mobilizing climate finance. Furthermore, it offers an occasion to promote climate justice, with a focus on supporting vulnerable and marginalized communities who are disproportionately affected by climate change.
Q5. Is the idea of communally owned solar panels proportionally equivalent to the option of a power purchase agreement with respect to the amount that can be raised from such a mechanism over a finite time horizon?
Community-owned solar panels can often be more favorable due to the collective ownership structure, offering several advantages over power purchase agreements (PPAs) or individually owned solar systems. Community solar projects bring together a group of individuals who collectively invest in and own solar panels. This shared ownership model offers a range of benefits. First and foremost, it fosters a sense of community involvement, as neighbors and participants work together towards a common goal of sustainable energy generation. Furthermore, this approach is financially inclusive, making it more accessible to a wider audience.
Another significant advantage is that community solar systems often provide more favorable terms compared to traditional utility costs. Participants can enjoy reduced energy expenses while simultaneously promoting clean energy adoption. Moreover, the shared nature of the project typically results in a more efficient and cost-effective installation process.
Additionally, the financial returns from community solar ownership are often distributed among participants, offering a broader spectrum of benefits that can include potential income from excess energy generation, lowered carbon footprints, and a stronger sense of community resilience.
Q6. Would you consider the profit motive as being the key investment thesis for investing in solar, and if so, how liquid would the principal investment into a solar farm project be?
Energy Shift offers a unique opportunity for investors, where the profit motive plays a significant role, but it's not the sole driver. Investing in Energy Shift's community solar projects can be financially rewarding as returns are generated through the sale of clean energy to local communities. The specific financial returns depend on factors such as project location, local energy prices, and available incentives.
However, Energy Shift projects are typically long-term investments. This means that while they provide a stable income stream, they might not be as liquid as traditional financial assets. Returns accrue over the project's lifespan, which can extend for 20 years or more. This makes them more suitable for investors with a longer investment horizon who prioritize steady, long-term returns and are committed to sustainability and energy independence. For those seeking liquidity, Energy Shift offers options to sell ownership back to the company or to other investors in the market. This provides investors with some flexibility and the potential for liquidity when needed. The availability of liquidity options may vary based on factors such as project size, location, and the specific terms of your investment.
By participating in Energy Shift's community solar initiatives, investors not only have the opportunity to generate financial returns but also contribute to environmental sustainability and cleaner energy sources. It's a way to balance financial goals with the desire to make a positive impact on the environment and society.
Q7. What is the lifecycle of the most weather resistant photovoltaic solar panel and what would you say are the best new methods of disposal when helping to circumvent the issue of panel recycling at the end of life?
The lifecycle of a weather-resistant photovoltaic solar panel can vary, with an average lifespan of 25 to 30 years. High-quality panels are designed to last even longer, providing efficient energy production well beyond this timeframe. When considering the end-of-life disposal of solar panels, it's important to prioritize sustainable and environmentally friendly options. Recycling is a highly recommended approach, where dedicated facilities can recover valuable materials like glass, aluminum, and silicon for reuse in new solar panels or other products. Encouraging manufacturers to take responsibility for recycling through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs is another effective strategy in some regions.
Repurposing older panels for non-energy applications is also a viable option, such as in art projects, solar water heating, or remote power systems. Sending panels toa landfill should be a last resort and avoided whenever possible.
To reduce the environmental impact and maximize the benefits of solar energy, the solar industry and governments should promote responsible disposal practices and develop more efficient recycling technologies, and I already see several startups in the market trying to tackle these challenges.
Q8. What type of use case best suits this indirect model of ownership, and are there any conflicts of interest in owning solar panels for non-commercial purposes? Do you manage an app and if so where will the first place be to direct the interest of a reader or potential investor when contemplating investment in Energy Shift or its blockchain solutions?
The indirect model of ownership, as exemplified by community solar, is particularly well-suited for individuals who want to invest in solar energy but may not have the capacity or desire to install panels on their own property. It also works for renters and those living in shared or multi-unit buildings where installing personal panels is not feasible.
There are generally no significant conflicts of interest when owning solar panels for non-commercial purposes, as the primary aim is to contribute to clean energy generation and potentially save on electricity costs. However, it's essential to review the terms of any ownership or investment arrangement to understand the financial benefits, responsibilities, and potential returns. Energy Shift offers an app that provides easy access for readers and potential investors. The app serves as a hub for information about the company, its investment opportunities, and blockchain solutions. It's an excellent starting point to explore the company's mission, projects, and investment options. Additionally, the app can provide updates, news, and educational content about renewable energy and blockchain technology, making it a valuable resource for those interested in sustainable investments.
Q9. Finally, how can those interested in collaborating with you reach out to you and your team at Energy Shift Europe?
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