You used to need to be a homeowner with a healthy bank account to participate in the global shift to solar from coal. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Thanks to a number of new clean energy crowdfunding websites, anyone can participate in the solar energy transformation by investing in solar projects located in the U.S. and abroad. That means you! Some investment platforms even offer returns on investment, making it a smart way for people to earn green by going green. Here are a few companies driving the crowdfunding movement that’s poised to accelerate the growth of solar in the US and globally:
Mosaic is changing the way solar in the U.S. gets financed. The company’s crowdfunding platform allows both accredited and non-accredited investors to finance small-scale solar projects across America. Through these projects, the Mosaic community has placed solar panels on bee farms, charter schools, convention centers, and military housing across the country. Currently Mosaic’s investments are limited to residents of California or accredited investors who are residents of the United States.
RE-volv has a revolving solar energy fund called the Solar Seed Fund that finances community-based solar energy systems for nonprofits and cooperatives in the U.S. For example, a community center leases solar equipment from RE-volv for 20 years, during which time the cost of the solar installation, plus a small fee, is recouped by RE-volv. RE-volv continually reinvests this money back into the Solar Seed Fund to serve more communities with solar energy. This allows RE-volv to finance 3 to 5 additional solar energy projects from the proceeds of every project financed.
CollectiveSun is a hybrid between Mosaic and RE-volv. It offers secure investments in solar with great returns for investors, but the solar projects it finances help 501©3 nonprofits switch to solar to save on energy expenses, stimulate engagement with members, and support their missions. Check out CollectiveSun’s projects to see all the nonprofits you can help today with a solar investment.
1.3 billion people live without electricity. Life without electricity means they rely on kerosene lamps for lighting at home, which are expensive to refuel and emit toxic fumes when in use. It means children can’t study or do homework at night because of inadequate lighting. It also means people have to use car batteries or walk miles to a charging station to charge their cellphones. However, solar technology costs have fallen so much in the last 5 years that it’s now affordable for low-income communities in developing countries. On SunFunder, anyone anywhere in the world can invest in a solar project in countries like the Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia and get repaid in about a year. If you’re looking to help the global poor with solar, investing in a SunFunder project is the way to go.
Bonus: SolarCity (coming soon)
SolarCity offers solar-power systems for homes, businesses and other organizations, designing and installing custom-built arrangements like . Last week it just announced a plan that allows individual investors to buy debt investment products similar to bonds to participate in the company’s growth. Instead of being backed by SolarCity, these securities would offer returns backed by solar projects and contracts the company has with customers who have panels installed on their roof. Investors will be able to buy and sell these debt investments on SolarCity’s new investment platform that will be launched later this year. SolarCity is also one of SolarPowerRocks’ trusted installers.
So what are you waiting for? Let 2014 be the year you participate in the solar revolution around the world!
By: Cindy Nawilis
Cindy Nawilis is the community and operations lead at SunFunder, a lending platform connecting investors to high-impact solar projects that improve the lives of low-income communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin-America.