Sustainable Business Magazine

Page 36


SOLAR FOR ALL SolarShare is a co-operative based in Ontario, Canada, which operates in the solar energy sector. Sustainable Business Magazine speaks with President Mike Brigham about the rapid growth of the group, its unique industry offering, and why the company is so appealing to investors. SolarShare offers a unique approach to expanding the limits of the renewable energy industry, using public bonds, known as Solar Bonds, to raise money which is then ploughed back into developing new projects. As a not-for-profit co-operative, it has garnered huge interest in just five years. The organization’s roots extend back to 1998, when a group of people came together with a vision of moving Ontario, Canada, towards an environmentally sustainable future by 34 | SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

establishing the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC). The stated goal of TREC was to push forward a sustainable agenda using two broad principles: First, to establish industry-specific co-operatives that would operate independently to generate funds and finance their own projects; second, to bring sustainability principles into the school curriculum throughout the province. The latter of these two points has been successful, with TREC having gained a foothold in

four grades of secondary education. This project, known as TREC Education, has now become its own independent entity with full charity status. THE START OF SOMETHING NEW The former of the two principles began in 2003 with the formation of the WindShare Co-operative, an organization whose most notable success is the landmark wind turbine close to downtown Toronto. One of the investors in this project was Mike

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