Mixed Greens: Crowdfunding set to top $5bn for rooftop solar | RenewEconomy

Mixed Greens: Crowdfunding set to top $5bn for rooftop solar

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SolarCity says crowdfunding for rooftop solar set to explode; Goldwind applies for Gullen changes; Atlantis to test tidal turbine in China; Oasys eyes Oz.

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Crowdfunding has the potential to supply US rooftop solar projects with $5 billion of investment within five years – more than 50 times the amount raised to date. That’s according to Tim Newell – vice president of financial products for America’s biggest solar provider by market value, SolarCity – who says numbers like this would represent more than a quarter of all annual investment in the rooftop solar industry.

“This is ’crowd’ with a capital ’C,’” Newell said on Tuesday on the sidelines of this week’s Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York. “Crowd isn’t a niche thing. It’s everything but that top handful of institutions.” To date, the so-called crowdfunding model – in which rooftop PV developers solicit funds directly from retail investors, often through websites that tap a large number of small contributions – has attracted almost $100 million in the US, reports Bloomberg.

Newell says he expects to see “a surprising amount of assets” move through the crowdfunding channel in the next few years; providing, as it does, one of the few ways for individuals to back renewable energy projects, which give steady, long-term returns. “And we don’t say that just because of misguided optimism,” he said. “We’re saying it because we take a hard look at it and spend a lot of time talking to investors.” US homeowners installed 792MW of solar in 2013, up 60 per cent from 2012.

In other news…

Wind energy developer Goldwind Australia is applying for a modification to the approval conditions for its Gullen Range wind farm, after a dispute over the positioning of most of its 73 turbines. ABC Online reports that work on the NSW project was stalled last month, after the Department of Planning and Infrastructure asserted that 69 turbines had been installed up to 187 metres away from locations originally planned and authorised. Goldwind, which originally argued that a “minor relocation” of turbines was within its rights and had negligible social and environmental impacts, has agreed to apply for a modification to incorporate the changes. The application is open for public comment until May 2.

Morgan Stanley-backed, formerly Australian tidal turbines maker Atlantis Resources is set to test its commercial-scale technology in China, in a deal with Dongfang Electrical Machinery. BNEF reports that the deal, an extension of a previous agreement, will see Atlantis test its 1MW turbine onshore in Hangzhou, in China’s southeast, after which it hopes to install the turbine offshore Zhejiang province – marking the installation of China’s first commercial-scale tidal power system. Dongfang also made Atlantis the sales agent in markets outside of China for products including hydropower, pumped storage and tidal-range technologies, the company said.

US-based water treatment and desalination systems company Oasys Water has broached plans to expand in Australia and the Middle East after bidding on projects in China this year. Bloomberb reports that the Boston-based company is “optimistic” about winning one or two bids in China, where it has a partnership with Beijing Woteer Water Technology Co. The company’s CFO, Edward Freedman, told this year’s Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in New York that the strategy of the company – chosen by BNEF as one of 10 2014 New Energy Pioneers – was to “focus on a few markets, really target them.”

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