Tuesday 25th October 2016                 Change text size:

The Converging World: enabling a shift to sustainability

Photo: Brooke Raymond via Flickr

Blue & Green Tomorrow’s core aim is to encourage readers to buy from, and invest in, businesses that balance the needs of the planet, its people and all of our prosperity. One such organisation is the Converging World.

Formed with the mindset that “we are all connected”, its aim is to enable and fund community activity – both at home in the UK, and in the developing world – so that everyone eventually has access to sustainable resources.

CEO Wendy Stephenson spoke recently to Blue & Green Tomorrow about the charity – and outlined why investing in it would be a wise choice.

What is the Converging World?

The Converging World is a charity that has a renewable energy business. The charity currently invests in wind turbines, in Tamil Nadu India, sells the electricity and uses the surplus to support social and environmental initiatives in India and the UK.

In 2008 we put our first 3 megawatt (MW) [wind turbine] in through donation and bank funding. In the last year we invited others to invest with us and now have tripled our capacity to 13MW, projected to generate 25m kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean energy and avoiding more than 20,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

What problem is Converging World uniquely solving?

I am not sure that we can claim to be solving any problems singlehandedly but our aim is to generate long-term funding streams to support social and environmental initiatives from the returns we make on our investment.

There is nothing unique in investing and implementing renewable energy but what might be unique is that the charity is looking to make its donations work harder for longer through mission related investment and is a co-investor alongside others that want to be part of the solution.

Why do you do what you do? What are your drivers or inspirations?

The world desperately needs to install more renewable energy. The technology is proven, the returns are good, the risks are moderate but the money and the opportunity is not being matched.

We could install 200MW of wind in the next three years in sites where the projections show a healthy return, which will contribute to the energy needs of the world and specifically in India where 350 million people are still without access to energy.

Also for every kWh of clean energy we generate in India, we are saving twice as much CO2 as we would in the UK because the grid is ‘dirtier’.

Why should people invest in the company, either through Ethex or direct?

We are expecting to do a share offer with Ethex later in 2013. An investment in the renewable energy company gives people the opportunity to get closer to the project and participate more directly than if it was in a fund type trust. They can see and even visit the wind farm and get a real sense of ownership, quite literally!

We are also keen to extend the opportunity beyond the usual wealthy sector of our society so that more people can help determine the change they want to see in the world. Some have said that GDP is a measure of how much you are borrowing from your grandchildren; perhaps people want to find opportunity of how they can invest and look after their future instead and maybe our company can help in some small way.

What will the investment help you to do? And what will investors get out of it?

We are co-investors so we need to be clear that the co-investors will get the returns due to them and nothing will be sliced of that return and given to charity. The way that the investment helps the charity is in three ways: the first is that the more wind we put in the better the returns because the fixed costs stay about the same.

So if more investors come in then we can all benefit. Secondly, the charity has helped develop the project and this helps achieve our charitable objectives of sustainable development, and thirdly, the returns to the charity will enable us to run long-term programmes. For example, the charity wants to embark on major restoration projects to restore our habitats and forests and provide access to affordable energy in both the UK and India. We just want to see action!

The Converging World is expecting to do a share offer through Ethex in the near future. Sign up to the Ethex newsletter to find out more: www.ethex.org.uk/newsletter

Further reading:

Ethex: empowering education into ethical investment

Why investing directly in renewables projects is a worthwhile venture

There is a disconnect between investment and the real world

The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013

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