Solar Energy News: Bitcoin a New Investor Option for Solar, PV Popular in Low to Middle-Income Markets, SolarCity and Vivint Look to Boost Rooftop Solar

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Spring is here and so is another week of inspiring news out of the soaring solar industry. The growing popularity of solar in lower income households, major funding announcements from SolarCity and Vivint Solar, and the first-ever platform for investing in solar with bitcoin are the top headlines from this week’s Solar Energy News.

Solarcity, Vivint Solar Launch Major Funding to Boost Rooftop Solar Market

The two leading providers in the residential solar market, SolarCity and Vivint Solar, have each announced major funding in recent weeks in an effort to boost the growth of rooftop solar in the U.S. The new funding details are as follows:

  • Following a $249 million project fund launch last month, this week SolarCity announced another $131 million tax equity fund in partnership with a non-disclosed financing company.
  • With the SunEdison merger agreement terminated, Vivint Solar has launched $200 million in funding targeted for U.S. residential solar energy projects.

Community Solar Gardens To Power Blue Earth County, Minnesota

Community solar continued its widespread adoption this week after news that Blue Earth County in Minnesota will launch several solar gardens to power the area. A subscription deal has been signed that will allow Blue Earth County to power its buildings with photovoltaic energy at a rate of 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour, bringing the county expected savings of $10,000 in the first year and $1.2 million over the entire 25-year agreement.

South African Investors Using Bitcoin to Fund Solar Projects

SunExchange, a crowdlending platform based out of South Africa, made headlines this week for its service that allows consumers to invest in solar energy projects using bitcoin currency. The platform is the first of its kind and is already drawing investors from Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Canada in an effort to support local schools through solar projects. According to data from Ventureburn, current solar investors through SunExchange are getting a 10 percent internal rate of return on investment.

PSEG Acquires Major Solar Energy Plant

Public Service Energy Group Inc. (PSEG) announced this week their acquisition of a 37.8 MW solar plant from the solar power facility developer juwi Inc. The plant, located in Animas County, Colorado, is the second to be acquired by PSEG and will bring the company’s total solar generating capacity in Colorado to 315 MW of direct current PV energy.

Solar Power Gains Popularity in Lower Income Markets

Research from Kevala Analytics revealed this week that solar is most popular among lower to middle class families. Households with a median income of $100,000 or higher made up only 6 percent of all U.S. solar installations in 2015, whereas households at $70,000 or lower were the largest segment at 65 percent. According to GreenBiz analysts, the broadening adoption seen in the residential solar market can be attributed to effective government programs aimed at creating renewable energy for low-income families as well as excellent solar installation options for multifamily housing.

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