The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Mosaic, BigBelly Solar Awarded Grants for "Powerful Answers"

Two firms advancing renewable energy applications are in the spotlight this week at the CES consumer tech show in Las Vegas, one of the tech world's biggest venues, receiving grants from U.S. telecommunications company Verizon to further bring their ideas and strategies to the masses.

Last year Verizon launched a program dubbed "Powerful Answers" to seek the most compelling applications of various networking and cloud technologies to promote social benefits and solve problems in three categories: education, healthcare, and sustainability. More than 1,300 entries were submitted, and ten finalists were chosen for each category and ranked by judges.

This Wednesday afternoon, Verizon named all the Powerful Answers winners who will receive grants from $285,000 up to $1 million to turn their ideas into reality. The two "sustainability" winners with renewable energy ties are:

Mosaic: First place, $1 million. We've been tracking Mosaic since their launch one year ago; they've been at the edge of the crowdfunding movement, offering a way for the solar energy industry to tap into vast low-cost capital for commercial- and multi-residential solar energy installations. The company claims it has crowdsourced nearly $6.6 million for 20 solar projects, with 2,500 investors across the U.S., offering annual yields ranging from 4.5-7.0 percent.

With this Verizon grant, Mosaic plans to shift its gaze beyond U.S. borders into developing regions, seeking both off-grid and micro/minigrid projects that will help an estimated 1.4 million people who can't access electricity, and connect investors to those projects. The company already is "in discussions" with developers in sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, India, and Southeast Asia, with Africa as its first foray. Specific risk levels, yields, or tenor aren't yet calculable, stressed a company rep, but these projects could present higher risk/returns than Mosaic's existing U.S.-based portfolio.

The first step is to develop a mobile app to enable Mosaic investors to use the platform, to invest in U.S. projects and eventually internationally. Meanwhile the company is seeking to partner with solar developers in developing nations to provide financing for systems, and pulling together "a small team" to craft a new international loan product, taking into account extra variables such as currency exchanges and political stability . On the other end of the solar transaction model, users' electricity payments will be available via mobile phones in a pay-as-you-go model, though the Mosaic rep said it's "too early to say" what the company's role will be in that end of the transaction. (Text messaging, mobile payments, and mobile apps are the core of it all, thus Verizon's interest and support.)

This combined support for clean-energy infrastructure is where Mosaic sees big needs can be matched with big money: an estimated $15 billion market for solar micro/mini-grids, a projected $3 trillion investment pool seeking socially responsible assets, and a crowdfunding sector that saw roughly $5 billion in activity last year.

On-stage at CES for a Q&A, Mosaic CEO Dan Rosen also revealed that the company is expanding beyond its current portfolio of commercial and municipal sites, and is developing a residential loan offering to let people buy a solar system on their home. "We think that could be a massive opportunity," he said, pointing out that widespread solar energy proliferation depends upon projects of all sizes, so he wants Mosaic to "be a full-service solution" for both solar developers and consumers.

BigBelly Solar: Fourth place, $500,000. Mosaic wasn't the only solar-friendly company getting a nod, and a fat check, from Verizon at CES. BigBelly Solar started nine years ago with their solar-powered trash compactors that wirelessly notify administrators and building operators when full.  They claim a customer roster exceeding 1,000 organizations, ranging from a ski resort (its first customer) to mining camps, universities, municipalities, malls, and transit agencies. A solar panel (6-30 W depending on model) on the unit charges an internal battery that powers all of the capabilities from compaction to wireless communications; the company claims the units can function for three days without sunlight. The value proposition:

  • More efficient resource allocation (less physical monitoring and emptying of bins)
  • Smarter and cheaper scheduling of waste collection ($25-$50 average annual maintenance for the units vs. waste-management contractors that typically charge per pick-up)
  • Added potential for single-stream recycling
  • Better transparency and efficiency for what the company pegs as a $13 billion industry

Responding to audience questions at CES, Verizon's chairman/CEO Lowell McAdam emphasized his company isn't taking any ownership stake in any of the grant recipients. "The IPR [intellectual property rights] is theirs," he said; "our offer is to help them any way we can to commercialize their products." Over the next 30 days the company will start evaluating input from the inaugural crop of winners and applicants to shape the criteria for its next round of Powerful Answer grants.

Lead image: Hand thumbs up emblem for best of the best, via Shutterstock

RELATED ARTICLES

First Anniversary of The Balkan Floods Highlights Renewable Energy Market Opportunities

Ilias Tsagas, Contributor One year ago this month, severe flooding in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia killed 79 people, displaced about half a million and caused economic paralysis of the region. In the wake of these the catastrophic events, ...
Canadian Climate Goals

Canada Announces Weak Climate Target

Danielle Droitsch, NRDC Last week, Canada has announced its contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases by announcing its post-2020 target. The target announced today is off-track to the 80 percent cut by 2050 they committed to in...
Renewable Energy Stocks

What Drives Alternative Energy Stocks?

Harris Roen, The Roen Financial Report Alternative energy became a serious market player after the turn of the millennium. Since that time, solar, wind, smart grid and other alternative energy stocks have experienced both strong up and down trends. The forces at...
Rooftop Solar Panels

Hypocrisy? While Buffett Champions Renewables, His Company Fights Rooftop Solar

Mark Chediak, Noah Buhayar and Margaret Newkirk, Bloomberg Warren Buffett highlights how his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. utilities make massive investments in renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Nevada, the company is fighting a plan that would encourage more residents to use green power.
Jim is Contributing Editor for RenewableEnergyWorld.com, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, ...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

03/01/2015
Volume 18, Issue 3
file

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

EU PVSEC 2015 (European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition)

The EU PVSEC is the largest international Conference for Photovoltaic re...

CA Wine Industry's 2015 Solar Update- WEBINAR

Proceeds from event registration will go to the CA Sustainable Win...

SMA More Power, More Profit Tour - Duluth

SMA’s More Power, More Profit Tour is aimed to provide highly-valu...

COMPANY BLOGS

EU PVSEC 2014 extends its Scope

Added focus on application and policy topicsAbstracts for conference con...

EU PVSEC 2014: Call for Papers Receives Great Response

More than 1,500 contributions apply for presentation in AmsterdamScienti...

Solar Impulse Flying From China to Hawaii

The team behind Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane, is prepa...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS