$5 billion of US rooftop solar will be crowd-funded by 2019

The US rooftop solar market could be crowd-funded to the tune of $5 billion within five years, according to an executive from SolarCity, America’s biggest solar provider by market value.

To date, the crowdfunding model – in which rooftop PV developers solicit funds directly from retail investors, often through websites which tap a large number of small contributions – has attracted almost $100 million in the US, reports Bloomberg.But Tim Newell, SolarCity’s vice president of financial products, believes the funding source could boom to more than 50 times this amount by the end of the decade – more than a quarter of all annual investment in the rooftop solar industry.

“This is ’crowd’ with a capital ’C,’” Newell said on Tuesday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York. “Crowd isn’t a niche thing. It’s everything but that top handful of institutions.”

According to data compiled by the Solar Energy Industries Association, US homeowners installed 792MW of solar in 2013, up 60 per cent from 2012.

But, as Bloomberg notes, crowd-funding is believed to offer one of the few ways for individuals to back renewable energy projects with the guarantee of steady, long-term returns from selling electricity.

“You’ll see a surprising amount of assets move through this channel in the next few years,” Newell said. “And we don’t say that just because of misguided optimism. We’re saying it because we take a hard look at it and spend a lot of time talking to investors.”

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd