In an indication that the "Kickstarter or solar" may be able to harness the power of crowdfunding, Solar Mosaic has attracted sufficient investment in its first 24 hours to fund its first three projects. The projects are on affordable housing sites in its home state of California and include a 55 kW array in Corte Madera, 78 kW in Salinas and 10 kW in San Bruno. One further project is still available for accredited investors.
For the four projects already funded after the sites full launch, investors will receive a 4.5% return over approximately nine years after the startup has drawn its administration fees. The concept behind the site is that it will be able to provide "solar for renters" as people who are not able to install a solar photovoltaic array onto their own roof, for various reasons, can make small investments in Mosaic projects.
In its initial day of operation, Solar Mosaic attracted 400 investors into its projects, with investments between US$25 and $30,000. In total $313,000 was invested in crowdfunded solar projects. Mosaic has reported that the average investment was $700.
Under SEC rules, the first round of projects were only open to investors from California and New York, and accredited investors countrywide.
"We are thrilled at how the public showed up yesterday," said Mosaics CEO, Dan Rosen, in a statement announcing the result. "Its indicative of a pent-up demand that we are working to meet. People want strong returns and want to know what their money is invested in. Our marketplace allows people to sidestep Wall Street by investing in Main Street."
There has been a considerable "viral" effect on social media after Mosaics full launch with investors sharing news of their investment via twitter and Facebook.
Solar Mosaic has collected a number of the responses from investors, which include: "A crucial step toward an authentic democracy is to put clean energy in the hands of the public. Mosaic is a true champion of the people," from Roland Regos. Rosana Francescato wrote, "Mosaic is lowering the barrier for regular people like me – not just rich investors or big companies – to benefit from solar power while providing a good return on investment."
The success of crowdfunding, to finance creative projects or new products, has been considerable in the U.S., with sites such as Kickstarter raising hundreds of millions of dollars. Time will tell as to whether Solar Mosaic is able to continue to do the same with photovoltaics, however the first signs have certainly been positive.
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