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2016 Climate Champions: ECO4CLIM16 winners’ interviews



Last month’s COP22 Climate Summit has marked the beginning of real climate action. A new era in which governments, businesses, science and academia, financial institutions and investors, NGOs and all of us, citizens of the world, we once and for all join forces and become part of the solution to climate change and inequalities. The time has come to implement the Paris Agreement and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, through disruptive innovation and international cooperation. As stated in the Ecopreneurs for the Climate Marrakech Action Proclamation, SMEs and ecopreneurs we contribute with sustainable businesses that create quality jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and empower communities, while building their resilience and adaptive capacities.

But enough grand words, let’s get down to work, put the spotlight on what these changemakers are doing on the ground, and inspire a whole new generation of others. 26 impactful ecopreneurs won the 2016 Global Week of Green Business and the Climate Movement –ECO4CLIM16. 26 Climate Champions that we now interview for the world to notice. To begin with, Soty Solar, or “the AirBNB of solar rooftops” as they self-define themselves. The collaborative economy taking the community solar revolution to the next level … 

Soty Solar

Website: www.soty.es

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SotySolar
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sotysolar

City or community: Gijón, Asturias
Country: Spain

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About your project

1. Tell us a bit about your project, company or organization; from your mission and objectives to your products or services, passing by your value proposition and key beneficiaries

SOTY is the AirBNB of solar rooftops. It’s a marketplace where owners publish their rooftops through an auction mechanism for solar service providers by installing photovoltaic solar panels. In this way, the only thing owners have to do is compare quotes and pick the best one to save on their electric bill. We have a clear goal: to provide cheap access to solar energy to the citizens.

2. Regarding your business model, what are your main sources of revenue and how is financial sustainability achieved?

In Soty, we opt for the “solar as a service” model, and enable the host customer to avoid many of the traditional barriers to adoption for organizations looking to install solar systems: high up-front capital costs; system performance risk; and complex design and permitting processes. In addition, these arrangements can be cash flow positive for the host customer from the day the system is commissioned.

3. Any magic ingredients in your communication strategy?  

We want to show people that solar energy really works and is profitable. We complete a personalized report for free so they know how much they can save with solar energy.

4. What are your next steps in the short-to-mid term?

We seek to consolidate in Spain and open other markets to give the possibility to people from other countries to enjoy the advantages we offer.

5. Looking ahead, what is your long-term vision, say in 5 years from now?

We want everyone to enjoy solar energy, opting for a model of sustainable energy consumption and generation and respectful with the environment.

6. What would your advice be for green SMEs starting up?

The most important thing is to have illusion, fight and believe in their idea. It is essential not to lose sight of the goal, and they must think global.


Impact

7. Select the three (3) UN Sustainable Development Goals your project can make a significant contribution to:

  • SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy– Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production– Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • SDG 13 – Climate Action– Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy

8. Elaborate your answer a bit. Tell us concretely how your project is creating impact in relation with those 3 SDGs, now and in the future. Also, if some significant part of your project’s environmental or social impact is not covered by the SDGs, please describe it here too.
We create impact with a model that fights against climate change offering easy and simple access to renewable energies. We encourage production of clean and decentralized energy, bringing energy to people and making they produce and consume energy sustainably.

9. Let’s focus now on climate change. Firstly, is your project substantially reducing CO2 emissions, compared with similar “business-as-usual” alternatives? How and how much (approximate %)? Please define the “business-as-usual” alternative you use as benchmark
Our project helps to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% in most cases. We use a business model of “solar energy as a service”, which allows anyone to enjoy the benefits of solar energy.

10. The consequences of climate change are upon us already. In what ways does your project help communities cope, and become more resilient in the face of these impacts?
Soty makes cities and communities safer, resilient and sustainable. We ensure a healthy lifestyle and promote wellness in all of them.

11. As you may know, the Paris Agreement strongly emphasizes the need to adopt cooperative approaches at all levels, and boost innovation, in order to be able to accomplish the rapid and across-the-board transformation required to rise to the challenge (climate change). How does this formula (cooperation + innovation) apply both to your strategy and daily operations?
Soty tends to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development by creating a global network of citizens, companies and institutions, around solar energy.

12. This year at the COP22 in Marrakech, the goal is actually to move from negotiating an accord to fostering real action towards impact. In your view, what is and must be the role of ecopreneurs and SMEs in implementing these agreements on the ground, and actually building a new, more sustainable, and equitable economy? What do SMEs bring to the table that large companies, NGOs, or governments don’t?  

SMEs and start-ups need to work closely with large companies, NGOs, or governments, applying disruptive and innovative solutions that improve the planet.

13. In the past, businesses and NGOs from the so-called “Climate Movement” have kept their distance, and even seen each other as “enemies”? What’s your particular take on this? Do you think they have to work together? How does your company relate to civil society organizations and movements?
I believe they should work together because they would be stronger and as a consequence of that collaboration, it would be easier to reach final customers.


ECO4CLIM16 and climate innovation labs

14. What did you get from participating in #ECO4CLIM16? Any highlights? 

The strength of a community that wants to do great and good things.

15. The next phase of the “Ecopreneurs for the Climate” movement, concerns the deployment of a global network of climate innovation labs, where new climate-champion green business ideas will emerge, and also impactful models and best practices will be shared and replicated across the world. Given your current needs, what would you like to see happening in these labs to scale up the impact of your project? For example, would you fancy embarking yourself on a climate innovation journey to explore green economy ecosystems, meet fellow changemakers, and forge international partnerships in other cities and countries?
The climate innovation journey would be very interesting to green economy ecosystems, meet fellow changemakers, and forge international partnerships in other cities and countries.


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Soty Solar among the 2016 Climate Champions in Oviedo, Spain