Environmental Finance's Bond Awards 2022

Award for innovation - bond structure (social bond): Sunwealth

Bond Awards judges picked out Sunwealth's solar fund for its "interesting focus on solar" in the Award for innovation – bond structure (social bond).

Sunwealth says its Solar Impact Fund has deployed about $100 million in community-scale solar projects.

Jess BrooksThe fund bundled a variety of solar projects into a single investment vehicle, enabling projects that vary in size, the market they serve (e.g. nonprofit organisations, small and medium-sized businesses, or low- and middle-income communities), and building type (for example, multifamily housing, schools, commercial buildings, faith organisations, government properties, and community facilities), while providing job creation and revenues for small businesses (local solar developers and installers).

The Solar Impact Bond structure was "well documented", according to judges, and allowed private investors to finance specific, community-based, clean energy projects ranging from 5kW to 2MW. It leveraged federal renewable energy tax credits and state-based incentives, and lowered the participation threshold for investors, to a minimum of $25,000.

Sunwealth said: "Every dollar invested with Sunwealth's Solar Impact Bond creates close to $0.50 in lifetime energy savings for Sunwealth's customers and $0.80 in revenues for local solar developers and installers."

Jess Brooks, Sunwealth's chief development officer, highlighted Sunwealth's partnership with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), one of the projects the bond supported. She said 1.8MW of rooftop solar gardens had been built on 27 buildings at NYCHA's Queensbridge Houses, making it the "largest community solar project in New York, on the largest affordable housing development in the US".