Rapidly dropping polysilicon prices over the past year have inspired several utility-scale solar developments to move forward after many months’ pause. At the same time, those in favor of distributed generation (placing solar on every available rooftop to supply energy locally) have also made strides in improving the business case for small-scale solar, particularly with respect to what is being called “community solar”–centrally located solar projects that enable those who can’t necessarily put solar on their own roofs to support and benefit from solar energy.
Now, two emergent financing mechanisms are shaking up the energy business case, creating models that could work for a variety of renewable energy sources. Berkeley-based Solar Mosaic has taken a crowd-funding approach to solar. Much in the way that Kickstarter enables average citizens to fund creative projects, Solar Mosaic enables citizens to support local solar development. The difference is that those citizens earn back their investment once the solar has been installed.
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