By Will Quinn
Originally published on Mosaic
See video on YouTube.
As we head into 2013, Mosaic is highlighting the exciting state of solar in this multi-part video blog series. Each video features employees discussing what Mosaic’s model brings to the solar and finance industries.
In 2013, for the first time in history, everyday people will be able to invest in solar power projects thanks to Mosaic’s innovative crowdfunding platform, even if the solar arrays are thousands of miles away from their homes. Not only is 2013 an incredibly exciting time for the future of solar and renewable energy, but it marks the beginning of a revolutionary new financing era where the 75% of people who cannot currently go solar are enabled to invest in a tangible emerging asset class. Ordinary people investing in solar provides a new capital source to the solar finance industry.
Solar as an asset class means banking on the sun. It means your investment has an impact. It means supplying thousands of communities and people who have the ability to go solar, but do not currently have the capital, with the financing needed to get their projects off the ground. Solar as an asset class means people, planet AND profit.
Through innovative new crowdfunding models, millions of people can help supply liquid capital to the rapidly growing renewable energy and solar industries. Crowdfunding connects investors who are looking for stable investments with project hosts who need additional capital. This model ultimately benefits groups on both sides of the equation, but it also helps innumerable others. Solar projects often have positive implications for the independence and strength of the surrounding communities. Solar projects can bring jobs, clean energy, healthier communities, and independence from the grid.
The implications of a renewable energy economy and a renewable energy future cannot be overstated. If we hope to combat the trend of rapidly escalating climate change, we must frankly change the way the world works. Creating solar as an asset class is ideal because of its revolutionary implications for the world’s energy and finance markets.
No longer will renewable energy lack the capital it needs to grow, flourish, and support our economy into the 21st century. And no longer will the world of finance be a zero-sum game where people either achieve security through paltry returns, or invest their money in the often volatile traditional asset classes. Furthermore, when investing in traditional asset classes, it can be difficult to know what your investment is supporting, and an investment in the stock market can frequently mean an investment in fossil fuels. This is why a growing movement of people are pushing for divestment from fossil fuels. Solar investments ensure a positive impact on the planet rather than an uncertain one.
When considering new asset classes for investment, investors typically seek low-risk, competitive returns, and returns which are uncorrelated with the stock market. A well-balanced investment portfolio is diversified among different asset classes that represent the appropriate risk/return profile for different investors. Solar investments can potentially lower overall portfolio risk by providing long-term fixed income with lower volatility.
In addition to being an emerging asset class, solar is also an impact investment which achieves social and environmental good while earning a competitive return. In fact, a report by J.P. Morgan and the Rockefeller Foundation highlights the momentum of impact investing and the potential for “multiple bottom-line returns and social good… with financial returns, ranging from concessionary to market-beating.”
Solar is also an investment in infrastructure. Bridges, highways, and solar panels are examples infrastructure and tangible forms of investment. Infrastructure currently appeals to investors due to its predictable and steady cash flows, low volatility, long-term assets that provide essential services, and minimal correlation with other asset classes (if the stock market tanks infrastructure is less likely to go down with it).
Solar is positioned to become an exciting new asset class for all of the reasons above. In addition, Goldman Sachs called renewable energy sectors “one of the biggest profit opportunities since its economists got excited about emerging markets in 2001.” Renewable energy investments are also gaining the attention of famous billionaires such as Warren Buffett, and powerful national economies like Germany, China and India. This asset class has very exciting implications for the future.
When you sit down and consider your different options for personal investment, you are rarely presented with such an inspiring balance of people, planet and profit. Solar as an asset class embodies all three of these pillars and ensures that anyone who supports solar can own solar.
Video by: Peter DiPrinzio and Mark Romanov