We are using Trine (https://www.jointrine.com/) for climate compensation. Trine is not a regular climate compensation company but rather a facilitator of loans for companies that are selling small scale solar power systems to home owners in developing countries. As of today, all campaigns so far has been targeted for the African continent.
How does it work?
Today, a lot of people in Africa live in electrical poverty. Either there is no electric grid to their towns or villages and if there is, it is usually both unreliable and expensive. Any electrical grid power is also combined with diesel or kerosene to produce electrical power for lightning and cooking. Solar system are usually a cheaper option but it requires an up front investment that most people in rural Africa cannot afford. There are companies around Africa that can sell solar power systems with pay-as-you-go methodology, but this requires an up front investment from the home owners. Here is where Trine comes in.
Trine collects capital through crowd funding campaigns towards different solar system re-sellers. This enables these companies to install lots of small home systems since the funds collected by Trine can be used as the upfront payment. As the system are installed the home owners can then pay of the electricity as well as the systems itself. This is still cheaper than their current alternatives and much better for the environment. Except for the decrease of greenhouse gas emissions, it reduces the consumption of gas, diesel, kerosene as well as wood. So it even has an impact against deforestation. And even if this is cheaper for the home owners compared to the current alternatives, both the solar system re-sellers, Trine as well as the crowd-funders gain economically of this making it an easy choice for expanding this business and moving capital from other current sources to Trine.
How do I get started?
You can go to https://www.jointrine.com/ and either create an account with them, or connect with a Facebook account. After that, you can look through their currently open campaigns and make an investment. You can either use a credit card or make a bank transfer. Please note that the investment is done in Euro, so if you are investing an considerable amount, it might be wise investigating if your bank(s) has a good exchange rate when transfering money to Trine. You can also select to make a monthly investment, for instance if you want to do this as a part of saving for yourself or your children.
Is there any risk associated with investing in Trine?
You can see Trine as a bond with a risk associated with every investment since there is always a risk that the solar re-seller could not repay the full loan. For some campaigns, there might be a company or institution that guarantees a part of the investment, for instance a non-government organisation. You would normally get around 5-6% yearly interest rate of your investment paid out in a series of payments. As soon as you get your first payback, you can reinvest this in more projects. This is why we like Trine so much, since it gives us an incitement to place money that we have here compared with investing them in funds or stocks. And since this investment can be reused in projects over and over again, and also should grow over time, you can make a larger impact for every year!
What is the impact?
The impact of your investments depends between the different campaigns, since different things like what the solar power replaces, is different from place to place. Just to give you an idea, we invested about 5,000 EUR during 2017 and Trine gives us the information that the summary of the impacts for the different projects is 96 ton CO2. Our current calculations is that we have 600 tons CO2 left to “pay off” and this would mean that we would have to invest another 30,000 EUR. On the other hand, the money can be re-invested after we get repaid from each project, so in practice it would be less. Even with 30,000 EUR to pay, this should be no problem for us, especially when accounting for less long distance travel and the savings that we will do with solar panels and an electric car. We reckon that a long distance vacation of 2-3 weeks would cost us about 4-5,000 EUR, and even if we would probably like to replace this with a closer alternative, there will sure be savings that can be used to invest in for instance Trine.