Student Energy signs joint venture, aims to raise millions for youth-led clean energy projects

A global youth network co-founded by an Edmontonian is one step closer to its goal of funding 10,000 youth-led clean energy projects by 2030.

During Climate Week NYC last week, Student Energy signed a joint venture with the American non-profit New Energy Nexus.

Sean Collins, Student Energy’s Edmonton-based co-founder, told CBC News on Tuesday that the partnership allows the charity to move beyond educating and mobilizing young people to investing in them.

“As a Canadian charity, we don’t have the ability to actually do investments in projects or in companies, but through our partnership with New Energy Nexus, we can now do that,” he said.

With 30 staff members across five countries, Student Energy runs an international network of thousands of young people, overseeing dozens of chapters at post-secondary schools and hosting biennial conferences on clean energy. A virtual summit is taking place next week on Oct. 8.

The charity is responding to the United Nations’ call for action on climate change, joining member states, businesses, cities and NGOs in making “energy compacts” with concrete commitments to work toward net-zero emissions.

$150 million by 2030

Student Energy’s goal is raising $10 million USD in 2021 and $150 million by 2030 for small, youth-led clean energy projects. 

“By stamping young change-agents around the world as being worthy of project investment and pulling off those projects, I think it makes it easier to grow larger and larger solutions over the next 10 years,” Collins said. 

Through a mentorship program with the non-profit Indigenous Clean Energy and the SevenGen Council, the charity is supporting 10 Indigenous clean energy youth projects in Canada. 

These include solar power and food security initiatives, Collins said.

The Government of Denmark signed on as a funder for the organization. Collins said UN member countries are also contributing, but the organization is still $8 million shy of reaching its first goal.

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