Solar Energy Meets The Sharing Economy

Although it's one of the only forms of energy to offer a 100 percent return on investment, solar energy has only been adopted by about 1 percent of the U.S. population. A recent solar energy industry report indicated that cost and complexity were two of the biggest reasons why people are slow to invest in solar technology.

Solar Mosaic brings the popular crowdfunding technique to the clean tech industry by developing a way for communities to create their own renewable energy without going into debt.

Through their online marketplace, Solar Mosaic connects people who want to go solar with the buildings that have the ideal roofs and space to go solar.

"Many community-oriented buildings like schools, churches and non-profits don’t have the upfront capital to pay for solar installations, and many individuals want to go solar but don’t own a home in a place where solar makes economic sense," states the company's website. "And even if they did, the laws are so complex that going solar can be very challenging. We make it easy for building owners to go solar and to start saving money from day one."

Individuals can help fund solar energy projects in their neighborhood by purchasing "Tiles," a name that sprang from the traditional term for large works of art made from scores of smaller pieces.

A Tile represents $100 share of a community solar project and buying one increases the amount of renewable energy flowing into the grid. Building owners get to enjoy the low cost of clean energy without huge up-front costs or high interest rates from banks. Individual investors are paid back over time from the revenue the Tile generates while earning some fun goodies along the way.

Currently, Solar Mosaic is crowdfunding two solar projects in California: a 140 kilowatt array in Oakland that's projected to save the host $350,000 over 20 years and an ongoing series of installations in Richmond that will create hundreds of jobs for the local economy.

If you're interested in being the host of a Solar Mosaic installation, click here for more information about how to apply.

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