It turns out that a lot of solar projects that big companies are putting together cost them absolutely no money! Actually, they often save them money from day 1. The question is, how are they doing it...and why can't you and I do it as well?
Solar power makes economic sense right now. If you install solar panels on your house in California, you will save money over the 25-year life of the panel (barring Steorn and cold fusion). But it's hard to ask someone to pay 10 years of power bills all at once. In fact, it's prohibitively expensive. Not even big companies (aside from the extremely high profit ones) have that much money to throw around.
But investment companies do have that money, and if they can guarantee a 100% return over 25 years, then that's a darned good deal for them, especially in light of the current credit crisis in America.
Well that's where MMA Renewable Ventures steps in. These guys link investors with companies who want solar panels. The investors pay for the panels and installation, and then charge the companies a locked rate for the power coming out of the cells. The companies save money on their power for the next 25 years, look green, and don't have to lay out huge sums of money. The investors get a healthy return over the 25-year life of the cells and don't have to worry much about risk.
It's a great deal, and already MMS has brokered deals for Gap, Estee Lauder and several other large companies.
The question is, can the model be scaled down, so that you and I can get our solar panels for free too? Well, so far, it doesn't make economic sense. But several companies are hungrily eyeing that space. And with a little bit cheaper cells, and a couple more government subsidies, we could all be enjoying free solar!
Via Business Week thanks to Paul for the link.
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