I’ve never been to Wildwood, New Jersey. Most likely, I’ll never go. But with a click or two on my laptop, I just invested $100 in a 487 kw solar project on the roof of the Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, on the Jersey shore, thanks to Mosaic.
Like Kickstarter, which enables ordinary people to support a variety of projects that grab their attention, Mosaic is an Internet crowdfunding platform. But Mosaic for now focuses exclusively on solar energy and, unlike Kickstarter, it promises its investors a return–in my case, a 4.5 percent annual yield over the next 110 months. That’s a lot better than 10-year US Treasury bonds that currently return just 1.66 percent a year, and a whole lot better than my money market fund at Vanguard which current returns 0.01 percent. [Of course, investing in solar is also more risky than buying a money market fund–see the addendum below.]
What’s more, I get to support solar power–which won’t work on the roof of my own home in Bethesda, Md., because it is surrounded by tall trees.
I’ve been keeping an eye on Mosaic since last September when I met one of its founders, Billy Parish, in Washington, D.C. Billy subsequently came to Fortune Brainstorm Green this month, and we caught up the other day by phone. Since Mosaic began offering solar investments to a broad public in January, the company has raised about $2.1 million from about 1,500 investors. That’s impressive.
“The idea is that people should be able to invest in, and own clean energy,” Billy told me. “We need trillions of dollars in the coming decades to invest in clean energy. We just substitute the crowd for the bank.”
Think about it–Mosaic is financing distributed energy, using distributed funders, collected over the Internet, the ultimate distributed platform. This is decentralized power at its best. [click to continue…]