"Kickstarter for solar" raises US$2.5 million


The concept of crowdfunding has made a major impact on many creative industries in recent years. It allows many "micro-investors" to make small contributions towards a project, business or endeavor via an online portal.

The website Kickstarter has become the leading crowdfunding site in the U.S., where close to US$1 billion dollars were pledged in 2011. Almost 12,000 projects were funded successfully through Kickstarter last year also, across an extremely wide range of projects, from films and computer games to novels and pop records.

Solar Mosaic has been applying this model to solar installations in recent years and has funded five rooftop photovoltaic installations in California and Arizona. This initial stage of Solar Mosaic’s development was based on providing interest-free finance, where the 400-odd investors provided funding for the projects, on the basis that they would receive their initial investment back, as the solar installation pays for itself.

Mosaic’s first five installations where worth 73 kilowatts (kW) and were installed on community organizations and not-for-profits, such as the People’s Grocery in Oakland, California.

While Solar Mosaic is not providing details – due to SEC-mandated regulations, requiring the company to be in a "quiet period", a spokesperson has told pv magazine – it is understood this not-for-profit stage of Solar Mosaic’s development was a "proof of concept", before the company rolls out its service for investors hoping to profit from photovoltaics.

Also called "solar for renters", Solar Mosaic will potentially allow many people who would like to put money into photovoltaics, but don’t own appropriate roof space, to invest in solar.

The investment into Solar Mosaic was made by various venture capitalists, including Spring Ventures, also from San Francisco. Spring Ventures invests in companies that it believes operates at the juncture of cleantech and IT, called "Cleanweb".

At present Solar Mosaic only has a facility where prospective investors can register for notification when projects become available. A company spokesman told pv magazine that more "exciting news" can be expected next week.