As part of the SunShot Initiative, the US Department of Energy has awarded a $2 million grant to Solar Mosaic, a crowdfunding platform for solar projects.
The company aims to make solar more cost competitive and mainstream through an online crowdsourcing platform that enables the average citizen to create and fund solar projects. About 25 percent of the cost of solar installations are financing and customer acquisition costs, which Solar Mosaic’s platform is designed to reduce.
“Mosaic aims to enable millions of Americans to finance solar projects in communities around the country, creating new jobs and stimulating local economies,” the company explained in a press release on its blog announcing the grant. “By driving down the cost of solar, Mosaic will make it possible for more homeowners, businesses, and community organizations to share in the environmental and financial benefits of solar.”
Though its still quietly in a pre-launch period, the company’s platform has so far collected over $350,000 in interest free investments from 400 individuals. Its first five projects have generated a combined 73kW of energy, more than a million dollars worth of energy, and added 2,700 job hours. The startup has a special focus on community projects designed to benefit the local populace.
“Our mission is to create shared prosperity through clean energy,” said Mosaic’s President, Billy Parish. “Mosaic is the place where people can create clean energy, local jobs, and make a massive impact together.”
The grant was announced at the SunShot Grand Challenge Summit. The goal of the SunShot Initiative is to get the cost of solar below $1 per watt by 2020. At the announcement, DOE Secretary Steven Chu likened the initiative to President Kennedy’s “Moonshot Challenge” to put a man on the moon.
“Financing is a major part of getting the cost of solar down. There is a huge difference between borrowing at 12 percent vs. 10 percent vs. 8 percent,” Secretary Chu said.
The company also recently raised a $2.5 million Series A investment. It will use this investment and the DOE grant to expand and scale its model.
Founded in 2009 by energy activists Billy Parish and Daniel Rosen, hacker/designer Arthur Coulston, and serial entrepreneur Steve Richmond, the company is headquartered in Oakland. It strives to help launch solar projects throughout the US.