Despite everyone heralding the end of the solar alternative energy field, it seems that there is still an opportunity for growth and change – especially with the help of crowdfunding technology. According to Imagine Solar, the US has experienced 140% solar career growth and last year the entire solar industry grew by more than 100% with venture capitalists investing in solar start-ups. So maybe it’s not over yet.
Look at Solar Mosaic’s approach, for example, where crowdfunding allowed more than 400 people to invest $350,000 to finance five solar power plants that will serve: The Asian Resource Center, People’s Grocery, The Murdoch Community Center, St. Vincent de Paul, Shonto Begay’s Home in locations in California and Arizona. According to Solar Mosaic, “the first five projects created 73kW of clean solar energy, will save community organizations more than $600,000 on their utility bills and produce over 2,700 job hours for local workers.”
Or how about the unique approach of University Park, Maryland that wanted to invest in solar energy, but was daunted by the practical limits of shade in their town, so the whole community banded together to start by installing panels on the top of a local church. This formed the group University Park Community Solar where members buy in for $2,000 – they sell energy to the church at lower rates than a utility company and the company sells the excess power back to the grid so that members earn back their investment in seven years and the community benefits from solar power. It’s not the open crowdfunding model, but it was a way to generate profitability for members while also serving the community – which shows that crowdfunding works in both open and closed models.
What do you think about the future of the solar power industry? How else can the crowd serve alternative energy pursuits?