Innovation That Matters

The company’s first project is a solar farm in Jackson, Tennessee which is funded by local brands looking to offset their carbon use. | Photo source Clearloop

Building solar where it will do the most good

Agriculture & Energy

A start-up is working to divert solar projects to the regions where it will have the most impact

Spotted: Despite the pandemic, in 2020 the US solar market set a new annual record of 19.2 gigawatts installed. However, most of the solar projects built in the country are located in states or areas where the process is easiest, rather than in areas that could benefit the most from the investment and reduced emissions. Startup Clearloop wants to change this by making it easier for smaller companies to invest in local projects, especially those in underserved areas. 

The company’s first project is a solar farm in Jackson, Tennessee which is funded by local brands looking to offset their carbon use. Unlike most large solar projects, which require investors to sign binding “power purchase agreements,” which can tie companies to decades of financing, Clearloop does not require a minimum investment. Clearloop uses a combination of outside funding and financing to pay for the project. 

While brands that invest in Clearloop won’t be able to claim they are running on 100 per cent green energy, they will be able to use the investment to offset their corporate emissions. At the same time, the clean energy generated will be sent to the local grid, helping to decarbonise the communities that could use it most. 

Clearloop co-founder and CEO Laura Zapata explained their emphasis on small companies: “Our thesis was that for every Facebook and Microsoft, there are thousands of other companies that are willing and able to invest in decarbonizing the grid, but don’t have the ability to sign up for power purchase agreements. They chose project locations, in part, by using data that ranks each county’s power grid based on how clean or dirty it is. We try to tackle three things.” She adds, “Where are the sunniest places? Where’s the grid the dirtiest? And where can a dollar invested in infrastructure go the longest way?” 

Solar power is being applied to an ever-widening range of projects, on both large and small scales. This can be seen clearly in recent innovations covered at Springwise, including a solar-powered factory in Nigeria and the development of solar-powered refrigeration trailers

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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