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The investment world is, well, truly a mess. To raise funds in the truly open market, companies have to have huge (HUGE) amounts of resources invested in lawyers, paperwork, and otherwise.  This is important to reduce the chance for outright fraud (pyramid schemes) like in the 1000s of 'make a million off this penny stock' emails that populate my spam folder.  In the interim, prior to that level of investment, businesses can raise funds from 'accredited investors' -- essentially people with a net worth of at least $1 million -- who should be able to afford a 100% loss in their investments. Those early investors, however, often can make 20, 30, 40+% per year on these early-stage investments. E.g., the rich have paths to get richer that simply aren't available for the rest of society.  And, honestly, these restrictions on investing can make it hard for decent businesses seeking triple bottom line results (good for people, good for planet, and with profits) to get money early at reasonable rates.

Today, a true triple bottom line company offers an opportunity that is available solely to accredited investors -- that is, unless you live in California or New York.  If you are a Californian or New Yorker, you can invest in solar electricity systems for as little as $25 a pop ... Live in an apartment or a rented home or simply without the $10,000s required for a solar system on your roof, this is a path to help put up solar power systems as part of the path to a renewable energy future not through "donations" by becoming a solar power system owner as part of a larger community.

[UPDATE: What is cool about this and makes it interesting, is that this company is trying to create path for 'ordinary' people to:

  • Help put up and have partial ownership of solar power systems,
  • That will go (it seems) on community facilities (such as low-income housing communities)
  • Which will provide savings for those communities, while
  • reducing pollution loads, and
  • providing a reasonable return for those individual investors

Can't (afford to) put solar on your own home but want (for any number of reasons) to be able to say that you 'own' / 'help put up' / 'invest in' solar power and have some $s (as low as $25 in NY and CA), this might provide you a path to ...]

Solar Mosaic is, in short, offering crowd-sourcing opportunities for putting up solar systems in places like affordable housing complexes.  

For example, a project in Salinas, CA,

Nestled among the mountains of Salinas, California, this affordable housing complex is home to over 120 low-income seniors. Rehabilitated from an antiquated motel into elegant, energy-efficient and affordable apartments, this community was designed with sustainability in mind from the very beginning. Located close to public transit, this community is a vibrant and eco-friendly home for Salinas’s rising population of low-income seniors. This solar project is estimated to produce the carbon equivalent of recycling 27 tons of waste instead of sending it to the landfill.
This project is, according to Solar Mosaic, going to return 4.5% per year to investors over a 96 month period at a time when few bank (savings) accounts are returning more than 0.5% and the 10-year Treasury Bond is at 1.90%.  [Although, as Johnny Wurster notes, Corporate AAA bonds do have returns in the 4% range -- however, they're not normally available for a $25 investor ...]

TO BE CLEAR -- while I find the Solar Mosaic model exciting, love the concept of crowd-sourcing solar (and other renewable energy and energy efficiency) projects, and find the projects that I've glanced at appealing, I have NOT closely examined the projects and I am NOT giving financial advice here.  Please make sure to take a real look at the prospectus for these projects, especially if you are thinking about investing what you consider to be a significant amount of money which you cannot afford to lose.

[ADDITION -- post seeing Troubadour's comment -- I have zero financial engagement with Solar Mosaic (other than, I think, donating some huge sum, like $10, to them as they started up (can't recall if I did or didn't ...).  I find the idea/model of crowd-sourcing for putting up solar in affordable housing in a way that will save those communities money, reduce pollution, create jobs, and give the investors some return on their investment quite attractive and appealing -- even as I caution, as above, about looking closely and making your own decisions.  Note -- I wrote this because I have tremendous respect for one of the key Solar Mosaic players, Billy Parish.]

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm a big solar dude, but this reads (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, wader, tommymet

    like an ad even with the updated caveats.  If you want to explore this further in future writing, I would suggest focusing on the process of how solar power is specifically enabled by this Solar Mosaic thing, not on things like ROI to investors.  If the claims are right, sooner or later they'll get the money they need - they don't need to be pimped.  What's relevant to Daily Kos, however, is the relevance of the company to solar power overall, not the other way around.  

    In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

    by Troubadour on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:59:36 PM PST

  •  Article is fine. Disclaimer at the end. Glad to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, badger

    have the information and form my own judgments.  Intriguing and I hope successful.

  •  4.5% on an 8 year lock up? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    AAA corporate bonds are yielding almost 4% and can be sold out of anytime.  seems like the better play.

  •  so I decided to do it. (8+ / 0-)

    How's that for impulsive?
    Not in any terribly large amount, but I've read through the prospectus and such and decided it was something to do.  Reports to follow - eventually.  And I won't blame you if it turns out badly ;-)
    All the prospectuses (prospecti?) I've ever read were for mutual funds - this one is a doozy.  As they are required to do and as is proper, they tell you everything that could possibly go wrong - and tell you most of it about 5 times in slightly different ways under different headings.  Everything from "our management could turn dumb and do stupid things" to " a meteor could fall on the solar project you are investing in"  Not quite literally what it said, but close.  Interesting.  
    Incidentally, we made a non-economically-driven decision to invest in a rooftop solar array and an electric car (Nissan Leaf) last year - so the economics are not a main factor for us on this.  if I get back what I put in with a little interest, I'm fine with that.  If it falls apart and I lose some, that won't kill me.

    "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verite et de la dire" Jean Jaures

    by Chico David RN on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:27:29 PM PST

  •  It would be more useful, I think, simply to... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    ...spend that amount of money...if one is really interested in the contribute money to the educations of young engineers.

    To a large extent, the idea that the failed, expensive solar industry is really "green" is faith based.   I seldom read a single account of said hand waving about the subject among people who have opened a scientific paper on life cycle analysis (LCA) calculations on the subject, even though more and more and more and more such papers are being published as the solar industry continues to raise vast amounts of money in spite of its sixty year history of failing to provide significant energy on this planet.

    One result of the solar industry is a a total increase, since 1995 of 800% of the extremely potent climate change gas NF3 since 1995.  

    (The disturbing output of this extremely potent greenhouse gas from solar cell manufacture with just one of the many "new and improved" solar manufacturing schemes is discussed in the scientific journal PROGRESS IN PHOTOVOLTAICS: RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS (Prog. Photovolt: Res. Appl. 2011; 19:453–463)

    The text of the paper, which I have before me, and I quote:

    F-gases in PV production may either be used for dry etching of crystalline silicon wafers, or clean processing in thin-film Silicon module production. The used SF6 and NF3  gases are, respectively, 22 800 and 17 200 times stronger greenhouse gases than CO2, and thus have a great impact on global warming per unit mass of emissions. It is interesting to note that the first warning regarding F-gas usage in thin-film silicon PV processing dates back to1997. Alsema and Nieuwlaar (1997) observed F-gas usage in PV manufacturing, analogous to usage in the semiconductor industry: ‘‘an SF6 emission of 0.5 g/Wp, which was reported for one specific a-Si module production plant could result in an increase of the CO2 payback time of the module with no less than 17 years!...’’

    ...SF6  emissions are monitored by the national reporting program of the UNFCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). NF3  gas, however, is not listed as greenhouse gas under the Kyoto protocol as well as the national reporting guidelines of the UNFCC [13,14].Therefore, when in 1999 the International Semiconductor industry announced to cut greenhouse gases by 10% in2010 [15], the NF3  gas has become the replacement technology of choice. We now see a substantial growth in NF3  usage/ emissions as manufacturers (of solar PV modules as well as flat panel displays) switch from SF6  to the unregulated NF3  cleaning practices. A recent study by Weiss et al. (2008) found that the atmospheric concentration of NF3  is nowadays almost 7 times higher than measured in 1995, corresponding to an annual increase of emissions from 110 metric tonnes in 1995 to 620 metric tonnes in 2008 [16]. This is a problem as NF3  is a greenhouse gas that is 17 200 times more potent than CO2

    Maybe someone will now inform me that PROGRESS IN PHOTOVOLTAICS: RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS is a right wing publication, since if there is one thing about solar advocates that I've noticed since switching sides against their advocacy is that they are very good at hearing only what they want to hear.

    One may also see the Geophysical Research Letters (GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 35, L20821) for a discussion of this gas, which was not discussed in the failed Kyoto effort, because before the ramp up of solar cell manufacturing and liquid crystal flat screen TV's the gas was relatively rarely used and thus, like many environmental impacts of the useless solar industry, ignored or buried under reams of wishful thinking, hand waving and ignorance.

    The hundreds of billions of dollars spent on solar energy over the last 50 years of wishful thinking has resulted in the production of merely 31.2 billion kwh on a planet that utilizes 17,360.344 billion kwh of electricity.   (Figures from the EIA for the last full year of complete accounting, 2010.)

    Thus after 60 years of wishful thinking and throwing vast sums money at an impossible dreams the grand solar scheme - money that among many other things could have jump started the careers of millions of engineers and scientists, or have provided for decent sanitation for the 2 billion people who don't have it or could have been spent on real environmental change, all we have to show for the solar effort is 31.2/17,360.344 = 0.17% of our electricity supply, not counting the fact that every damn solar facility on this planet requires burning natural gas as back up for either continuous spinning reserve or for the notorious unreliability of solar systems.

    I remind everyone of Einstein's famous definition of insanity which is to repeat the same experiment over and over again expecting a different result.    The expensive "solar will save us" experiment is now almost 60 years old.   Repeating for the next 60 years is pretty much impossible, because in 60 years, given the recent data on climate change gas concentrations in the atmosphere, there is likely to be very little to save.

    So write those checks if you want, but let me tell you that in terms of results, they will be no more effective than writing checks to a society dedicated to bringing Humphrey Bogart back from the dead.

    Have a great week.

    •  No Fossil Fuels (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There are absolutely, positively no fossil fuels used in mining, refining, enriching, transporting any nuclear fuels.  There are absolutely, positively no fossil fuels used in building and maintaining nuclear power facilities.  The ecological footprint of nuclear power is minimal.  In fact, you could argue that it provides a net positive to every ecological system on which it impinges, ever so lightly.

      But then I could be wrong.

      Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

      by gmoke on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:00:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anyone who knows a shred of nuclear science, (0+ / 0-)

        knows that despite the stupid objections of anti-nukes, nuclear energy has the lowest external cost of any energy system that produces an exajoule of energy.

        In an earlier diary here, I cited the right wing scientific journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews which gave the external carbon cost of all forms of energy, including the stupid toxic expensive failed solar industry that all our faith based dogmatists want us to spend money for libraries, health care, universities, sanitation infrastructure, food, etc, in an effort to bet the planetary atmosphere on a technology that hasn't done shit to arrest the tragedy of climate change for sixty wasted years.

        Here's the reference to the journal article in question:  

        Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 13 (2009) 1067–1073

        Here's the data therein (see table 7):

        Coal:  975.3

        Oil fired 742.1

        Gas fired 607.6

        Nuclear 24.2

        Wind 9.7–123.7

        Solar PV 53.4–250

        Biomass 35–178

        Solar thermal 13.6–202

        Hydro 3.7–237

        Now, if you object to these figures, why don't you write a journal article for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews stating your idea of a fact, the fact in question being that nuclear energy isn't perfect, doesn't have a zero impact, and since this is the case we should use stuff that is anywhere from 2 to 5 times worse, even if nobody on the fucking dying planet except bourgeois uninformed brats can afford it.    And while we're at it, why don't you suggest that we ramp up production of NF3 gas to a billion tons a year because no one wrote down the fact, during Kyoto negotiations, that its global warming potential is more than 17,000 times as great as that of carbon dioxide.

        Nuclear energy has, in fact, a much lower external cost than the failed, toxic solar industry, which has sucked hundreds of billions of dollars of money that could have done tens of thousands of things that might have made life less miserable for billions of people on this dying planet.

        Thanks, once again, for your brilliant point.   It's remarkable that someone could spend as much time as you do hanging around MIT and learning absolutely nothing at all.

        Have a great day tomorrow.

      •  I neglected to include the unit for table 7 above: (0+ / 0-)

        It's grams of carbon dioxide per kwh of electrical generation.

        It doesn't, apparently, refer to the Global Warming Potential of NF3.

    •  You say fail a lot. Too often. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I see fail here, but it isn't the solar industry.

      Your argument against solar is that there isn't enough? Well by all means let's make more... Which we would if the oil and gas companies weren't so determined to prevent them by any means necessary.


      •  My argument against solar is that it is too... (0+ / 0-)

        ...expensive, too wasteful, too destructive to the environment, too unreliable, too trivial and too much dependent on the continuous use of fossil fuels, specifically natural gas.  

        Since I have spent tens of thousands of hours of my life reading the primary scientific literature on topics related to , I am intimately familiar with life cycle analysis calculations, and although I'm perfectly sure that every "solar will save us" faith based maven has done precisely the same, but, um, somehow we disagree.

        Apparently I'm intellectually lazy.

        Other than those small trivial things, solar's great, and we should bet the entire planetary atmosphere on the proposition that solar energy is the greatest discovery since humanity learned to mine coal, and we should deprive children and adults of educations, medical care, sanitation, decent nutrition, defund the arts and the sciences all so that we can spend the next sixty years, like the last sixty years, spending hundreds of billions of dollars, yen, euros and yuan producing slightly less than 0.2 exajoules per year on a planet that requires 520 exajoules of energy per year with half of its seven billion people living in miserable conditions.

        I hope that clarifies my ridiculous position.

        Have a nice faith based day tomorrow.

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