Posted on Feb 6, 2013
Of course when solar is given a level playing field it will instantly become the source of 100% of all our energy needs very quickly. However, until carbon is taxed to pay for the growing damage and destruction caused by climate change and until subsidies to oil, coal, gas, nuclear and transportation are transferred to renewables, the only obstacle facing solar is financing the long term investment. That is right, investing in solar plants that can produce 80% of their rated capacity for 20-25 years, and then be left with a declining amount again of generating capacity for the following 10-20 years after that, provides a fixed income of return that is second to none.
So, solar makes financial sense over the long run despite all the inequities. As the price of solar continues to decline, which it has with more than 50% reductions for the equipment since 2011 alone, the return on investment times have steadily declined in lock step. Still, that up-front investment for 40 years of clean renewable energy supply takes a lot of capital, and a deep understanding of the risks and rewards of this type of investment.
These up-front large initial investments, in order to achieve energy democracy, that allows for political democracy, requires a distributed model of financing. Enter the idea of "crowdsourcing solar". Ideally, the politician you elect would understand the need for renewable energy democracy, and would pass feed-in tariff legislation as has Germany and many other leaders in the race to become 100% powered by renewable energy. In an economic order where that is not happening, it may be that crowdsource funding of solar project offers the last best hope.
In California wizards of the wild western web and financial market savvy entrepreneurs have established a "Kickstarter" type model for solar energy investing. Working through the complex world of capital markets investment offerings, a new way to raise capital and offer a solar powered investment opportunity is emerging slowly but surely.
According to the Blog at Mosaic, the organization developing this model, "We were thrilled (and surprised) that our first publicly available solar project investments sold out so quickly; we had expected them to sell out in a few weeks, not in under 24 hours. But then, thousands of people were left with nothing to invest in on the site, which was a bit of a let down. The number one question we’re getting now is, “When are there going to be more projects?” The short answer is soon."
Projects that professional investors were able to invest in included small rooftops at 1.5 kW to larger sites with more that 100 kW. In total so far they claim to have invested $1.1 million in power purchase agreements, providing the much needed up-front capital needed to get these great investments off the ground.
Check it out yourself at joinmosaic.com. Time to start putting solar on your roof and getting your investments moved over to renewable energy.