SolarCity Takes the Crowdfunding Path to Speed the Solar Boom

solar installersIn the last year, SolarCity’s common stock has gone supernova, from the $10s to the $70s at the speed of light. And I should know, because I’m a proud greenvestor dedicated to the fight against catastrophic climate change. If individuals, industries and nations unplugged our dirty fuel infrastructure and instead funded renewable power futurists like SolarCity, Solar Mosaic and many more, we might not be as far behind as we are. [Disclosure: SolarCity is an installer partner of’s parent company, One Block Off the Grid.]

But SolarCity’s debt securitization innovation — in which the public can directly securitize the company’s national solar infrastructure buildout through an online investment platform — promises to heat up ROI just as quickly as its share price.

It might sound like crowdfunding, the approach taken by Mosaic, GRID and other solar champions not backstopped by billionaire Elon Musk. But Solar City’s approach is business as usual for institutional investors, who capitalize at length on securitizations and then pass what’s left onto the hungrier public. By opening their economic advantage to everyone and anyone, Solar City has let the vastly larger public into executive backrooms to see if it can triumph where the suits have stalled.

“SolarCity’s financial products will provide an exciting new opportunity for people to make an impact — both for their own financial future and our global future — by investing in the shift to solar energy,” explained Common Assets CEO and president Tim Newell, whose company was acquired by SolarCity to develop its investment platform, in a press release. “Unlike crowdfunding and community solar approaches that typically aggregate investors to provide loans for individual projects, SolarCity plans to offer debt investments backed by diversified portfolios of solar assets.”

Of course, you can only invest in securities on Solar City’s platform. But given what we’re up against with global warming, whether you want to call this news benevolent crowdfunding or craven capitalism doesn’t really matter in the final analysis. All that matters is that you call on solar by any means necessary.

“It’s certainly a validation of our model, and demonstrates the solar industry’s rapidly growing need for capital,” Mosaic president Billy Parish told SolarEnergy. “Crowdsourcing investments from individuals will play an important role in meeting that demand.”

Together, SolarCity, the SEC and the public will work together to shine further light on the technical issues of its crowdsourced securitization and online platform as they develop. Let’s hope they come in handy and on time. Solar headlines were brilliant last year, from California’s exponential installations to promising renewable developments in dirty fuel strongholds. Solar City’s portfolio continues to perform like a powerhouse, and even Mosaic brought in a 7 percent return funding 20 projects with a hard-earned $7 million of the people’s money.

Solar City’s embrace of Mosaic’s modest proposal, more necessary than ever, is further blurring the lines between traditional institutional investment models and humanistic crowdfunding ideals. If it helps in any way to encourage divestment in dirty fuels and bring us closer to the renewable infrastructure we need and deserve, it’s a win-win for greens of all types.

I may be greenvested in any or all of the all renewable industry companies I write about, here and elsewhere. That is the point.

SolarCity installers photo CC-licensed by Steve & Michelle Gerdes.

Author: Scott Thill

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  1. […] New American Home 2014. Its panels came courtesy of SolarCity, which as I wrote earlier recently crowdsourced its funding out to individuals, not just institutional investors. But much more ink and attention was spent on TNAH-2014′s […]

    Pingback by The Market for Green Homes Continues to Improve | Solar Energy on February 11, 2014 at 8:01 am

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