France’s Akuo Energy has tapped a trendy source of capital, raising €200,000 for an operational 28 MW wind project through its own crowdfunding platform.

Crowdfunding for renewables has taken off in France in the last two years as a result of laws introduced by President-elect Emmanuel Macron when he was minister of the economy.

While start-ups such as Lendosphere connect retail investors with wind and solar projects developed by a range of sponsors, Akuo preferred to develop its own platform in partnership with Eiffel Investment Group.

Crowdfunding not only comes with an attractive cost of funds, but also has marketing benefits and the potential to engage local communities with wind projects under development in their area, says Simon Quiret, president of Paris-based Akuo’s crowdfunding platform, AkuoCoop.

“It’s going to be a bigger and bigger competitive advantage,” he says. “What people from the area like is that they are involved in the project financing. It is the best way to get people involved.”

Akuo’s project, called Croix-Benjamin and located in the Aube and Marne regions of France, cost €50 million to construct, of which about €40 million was financed through traditional non-recourse project finance.

The €200,000 raised through AkuoCoop will be used to reimburse the developer a portion of its equity investment in the project, which it will plow back into its development pipeline.

The crowdfunded loan, which is unsecured, has a four-year bullet maturity and pays investors a 4% return. In comparison, Akuo’s last green bond offering to institutional investors, a roughly €50 million five-year private placement, was priced with a 5.5% coupon in July.

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