Social business Ecosia is investing $30m into renewable energy in the wake of geopolitical and environmental crisis

16 March, 22

Ecosia, the environmentally-focused search engine which uses advertising profits to plant trees, is today announcing an investment of $23 million into solar energy platform Zolar to help households speed up the transition to renewable energy. The platform, Europe’s largest search engine, is also calling on businesses across Europe to invest in reducing our over-reliance on fossil fuels and combat the climate crisis.

The economic and environmental case for fossil fuels is over

Even before the geopolitical events of the past week, the growing fuel crisis that has been affecting both the UK and Europe caused the import price for fossil-fuel energy to more than double between December 2020 and December 2021. This is now worsening following sanctions levelled against Russia for its illegal invasion of Ukraine. In contrast, renewable energy often comes from local sources and is largely insulated from external geopolitical threats.

As well, the recent IPCC report states the window of time for adaptation in the face of the climate crisis is rapidly closing. Delaying the transition to green energy and the associated reduction of carbon emissions will result in irreversible consequences for the world.

Calling on businesses to invest in renewable energy

Investments in renewable energy within Europe would lead to savings of almost €2 trillion from not importing fossil fuels, as well as preventing 60 billion tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Big energy companies are not afraid to make drastic changes when necessary, such as BP dumping its 20% stake in Russian gas company Rosneft with an immediate cost of $25 billion following international sanctions. Yet this urgency is missing when it comes to renewable energy – BP’s investment in renewable energy is expected to reach only $5 billion annually by 2030. If $25 billion was invested annually by global businesses in renewable energy, this would help speed up global transitions to greener energy and help limit the damaging effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.

This is why Ecosia is calling on the private sector to take urgent steps to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and help accelerate the transition to renewable energy through green investments. Already the company has invested $7m into renewable energy, which enables it to create 200% of the energy it needs to power its searches and data centres, so it can sell the excess back to the grid to power other households and businesses. In 2020 alone, this excess energy avoided 4,500 tonnes of emissions from coal power in Germany.

The new $23m funding into solar energy startup Zolar, which makes solar panel installation more affordable and accessible to homeowners, will allow Ecosia to further double down its investment in renewable energy by empowering more people to access solar energy across Europe. This will enable the installation of solar panels on around 1,300 individual households, with each system absorbing an average of 4 tons of Co2 annually. This will help reduce reliance on oil and gas and pave the way to a brighter energy future.

Dr Wolfgang Oels, COO of Ecosia, said: “For too long we have depended on fossil fuels for energy despite the increasing warnings from climate scientists. This should no longer be an option anymore, not just for the planet but for the sake of the geopolitical crisis in Europe. Countries need to acknowledge and leverage the freedom that wind and solar power provides to their citizens by allowing it to be readily available locally. There is no excuse for inaction now; businesses, countries and citizens need to step up and make the change to renewable energy.”

Alex Melzer, CEO and founder of ZOLAR, said: “We calculated that if we covered every roof in Europe with a photovoltaic system, we could offset the entire CO2 emissions of Spain, France and Italy together. This shows what a significant contribution to climate protection is possible when the vast majority participates. And the best thing about it is that homeowners benefit in several ways. With a solar system, you not only protect the climate, but you also save money.”

Dr. Rupert Read, associate professor of philosophy at University of East Anglia and author of Parents for a Future, said: “The Ukraine crisis has shown dramatically the downside of depending upon petro-states to keep us warm. The climate crisis will sweep everything that we hold dear away unless we address it with far more seriousness than we yet have. We can address these two crises of our time simultaneously by investing right now in a massive expansion of green energy and of energy-efficiency and insulation. We need to make this switch before next winter. It is very encouraging to see companies such as Ecosia stepping up to the plate to do this. May many more businesses, institutions and communities join them.”

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