Friday, January 11, 2013

Crowded crowd-funding for solar projects

On Monday, Mosaic announced it would do the first-ever crowd-funding of solar projects, with a $25 minimum investment.  Yesterday I tried to buy in myself but their four new projects are fully funded.  They look like they might be having the same problem that Kiva used to have - more money than projects (it also seems like a different model than Kiva, the money goes directly to the projects rather than paying for a general fund).

Crowd-funding seems like a good way to get micro-investors involved in startups that would otherwise be impossible, to open up a new source of money for investment, to fund smaller projects that are too small for traditional investors, and to fund entirely new and different ventures that venture capital funders find uninteresting.  My impression is that Mosaic serves all but that last interest.  Obviously no one knows if it's going to succeed but it's just as obviously worth a try.  Maybe eco-grandparents will start buying Junior shares in solar projects instead of a stock as a college investment.

The other advantage is for people who want to do something renewable but can't do it on their own property.  Our townhouse has a small roof facing east/west with shading on the east - not an ideal place for solar.  Mosaic might be a better use of money to offset our emissions, and as an offset that others can use.


J Bowers said...

Not exactly the same, but in a similar vein:

British Cooperative Launches World's Largest Community-Owned Solar Park

1,650 private investors stumped up £6m in six weeks, the rest of which came from Investec Bank. People are sidestepping politicians, but it's a shame those pols are trying to scupper such initiatives in favour of the likes of their fossil fuel lobbyist father-in-law who also happens to be an unelected energy minister.

Hank Roberts said...

Bloomberg linked story says:

"The company provides capital to developers at about 5.5 percent. It collects a 1 percent fee and pays investors about 4.5 percent."
Isn't that more like a 20 percent fee?

Gator said...

Interesting -- you have to be a "qualified" investor, which means you have to make more than $200K for two years in a row, or have more than $1M in assets etc. Not for the small investor.

Anonymous said...

Right now, Joe Q. Public cannot actually "invest" in any company (in the sense of obtaining actual shares). It's verboten. Only registered investors can do that. So "crowd-funding" basically means "crowd-gifting" - you can just give your money, perhaps in in exchange for some goods, but not for equity.

The law was recently changed (JOBS act), although it's not yet in effect. You can have a look at companies like Wefunder, etc. that seek to do real "crowd-investing" as opposed to just "crowd-funding".

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Actually many companies have direct share purchase plans which any shareholder can participate in. DRIPs are common among companies which offer dividends.

Anonymous said...

Now let's see. Did this aresehole of a bunny do proper due diligence, or like most liberal arseholes, was his decision based on emotions.

EliRabett said...

Eli hears from a very reliable source that you can open an account on line and buy any stock or mutual fund. OTOH, what this is is essentially a private placement and they can set any requirements they want just as the case for hedge funds and similar.

Each brokerage firm has its own minimum account size limits, but this can be quite small. On line accounts have very low minimums for example but you pick your own stocks and funds. Do it yourself investing as it were.

Hank Roberts said...

I've never been all that good at figuring percentages.

Brian said...

You don't have to be a qualified investor if you're a resident of certain states, like California.