Solar energy crowdsourcing pioneer Mosaic is teaming up with Distributed Sun to provide investors new opportunities to invest in high-quality solar projects. The partners on July 11 announced the launch of their first joint investment project, a 657-kilowatt for the Pinnacle Charter School, one of the largest K-12 charter schools in Colorado.
Investors are expected to earn an estimated 5.4% annual return over the life of the project, well above the current 2.66 yield to maturity of the current, on-the-run 10-year US Treasury note. Revenue is to be generated by selling the selling the electricity to the school and via the sale of associated renewable energy credits (RECs) to the local utility, according to a press release.
That’s just the beginning, however. Distributed Sun and Mosaic intend to leverage their respective expertise and resources to scale up their online distributed solar energy financing platforms.
On The Road To 1 Million Colorado Solar Rooftops
A mere 1% of US schools have gone solar, Mosaic’s John Steller notes in a company blog post. Installing solar on schools across Colorado could contribute substantially to reaching the goal of one million solar rooftops by 2030 the state government set on June 27, Mosaic and other industry players believe.
Generating its own clean, renewable electricity is expected to save Pinnacle as much as $1.6 million over the project’s life. The solar photovoltaic (PV) system will also serve as educational purposes, offering thousands of students to learn about solar and clean energy.
“We are honored to partner with Pinnacle Charter School and Mosaic to commission this installation in Colorado, a vibrant solar market,” Distributed Sun CEO Chase Weir said. “It’s a real honor to provide a service that creates jobs, delivers substantial savings to our partners, teaches students about clean energy and is beneficial for the environment.”
Crowdsourcing Solar PV
Back in January, Mosaic announced that the first four solar projects listed on its online investment marketplace sold out in less than 24 hours, with more than 400 investors putting up amounts ranging from $25 to $30,000. To date, more than 1,800 investors have invested more than $3 million in Mosaic solar PV projects in Arizona, California, Florida and New Jersey, according to the company.
Distributed Sun has developed a solar and micro-grid project development and finance services platform for the commercial and industrial sectors across the US. The company “represents capital sources seeking to deploy over $1 [billion] of project finance in the commercial and industrial sector over the course of 2013 and 2014,” according to the press release. Its network of over 115 solar installers spans 28 states and is developing more than 120 megawatts of projects per month, according to the press release.
Looking beyond the Pinnacle Charter School project, Mosaic plans to leverage Distributed Sun’s Distributed Solar Network to scale its crowdsourced financing model. “Mosaic is thrilled to partner with [Distributed Sun] and open up more of these types of good investment opportunities to the public,” CEO Dan Rosen stated. “As we go forward together as partners under the truSolar initiative, an emerging standard for assessing solar project risk, we look forward to announcing deeper collaborations with D-Sun in the months ahead.”
Making The Sun Bankable
Looking to “make the sun bankable,” Mosaic announced it was joining with 16 solar and financial industry leaders in the truSolar initiative this past January.
TruSolar consortium participants including Distributed Sun, Standard & Poors, DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions, and Assurant are working to develop a standardized risk assessment model and scoring system for solar energy projects, the aim being to raise banks and investors’ comfort levels with commercial and industrial solar energy projects and thereby stimulate increased lending and investment.
“More than 95 percent of the country’s lending institutions have been sitting on the sidelines watching the solar industry’s rapid growth during the past few years. To improve participation and fuel continued growth, the industry needs to adopt these standards to deliver greater efficiency to the loan underwriting process,” Assurant’s vice president of new venture commercialization Jeanne Schwartz stated at the time.