Second solar crowd-funding platform launches

The solar industry has taken another positive step into the world of crowd funding this week following the launch of the Palmetto Group’s online investment platform, which gives accredited individuals and companies the chance to invest in solar projects for secure returns of 6% and more.

The Charleston, South Carolina-based company says that its platform differs from that of sector trailblazer Mosaic in that it places each customer’s investment into secure debt-style instruments, offering a minimum investment period of as little as 12 months as opposed to some investments that can lock in investors’ funds for as long as five years.

Palmetto’s hope is that the evolution of the solar industry can surge on the back of more flexible financing that give the general public the chance to back the sector in ways they have not been able to before.

Using the platform is extremely straightforward, claims Palmetto. Users simply establish an account, browse the projects available for investment, and then invest directly into solar loan notes. The platform provides analysis on performance in order to keep investors updated, as well as guidance on which types of investments may work best for them.

The company hopes to facilitate the investment of $10 billion in crowd-funded clean energy projects by 2020.

The solar industry sampled its first taste of crowd funding in 2011 with the launch of Oakland, California-based Mosaic, which was heralded at the time as the "kickstarter of solar". The company has since launched its Mosaic Places portal, which allows a wide array of investors to back solar installations on projects that Mosaic has developed. The portal also gives communities the power to nominate their own buildings for a solar array and organize from within to get the installation funded.