Rob Baxter, co-Founder of SolShare Energy discusses the most commonly asked questions about renewable energy in BC, how solar power can benefit anyone and why he does what he does.
What Is SolShare and How Does It Work?
SolShare energy is a crowd-based equity funding project that allows investors to buy shares in a company that’s going to own commercial solar energy projects in BC. From those projects, investors receive dividends based on those shares.
Who Are The Potential Investors?
SolShare is for BC residents who are concerned about climate change who care about green jobs and about the expansion of pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects. They’re already looking to invest or even divest. They’re home owners and most certainly are looking or a long-term growth in fast-growing industries.
The initial round is a minimum of $2,000 for their investment. After the first round, the amount to invest will be much lower – as little as $50 will get you in the door as a SolShare investor.
Where Will The First Solshare Project Be Installed In BC?
The first project in Vancouver is a co-housing project. A group of people came together to build a jointly-owned apartment building as a co-housing and all of the owners agreed to install the solar energy on their building and lease the equipment. So SolShare receives payments from them and those payments go towards the dividends that investors receive.
Each project will have a launch event where people can come and see the projects and any project so they can see and understand where their money is being invested. Most projects will be in Vancouver but there will be others in BC as well.
When Is This Happening?
Construction will be finished by July it will be starting to receive revenues in July. The first dividend will probably be paid out in October, 2015.
Why Are You Involved In Renewable Energy? What’s Your ‘Why’?
I’ve been involved in the renewable energy field for 10 years and helping to get renewable energy actually installed in BC. So this isn’t this isn’t developing some sort of new technology which isn’t needed. It’s time to scale existing technology on a commercial-level.
SolShare is a way to accelerate that deployment. It’s a way to get larger systems installed and larger buildings and help the deployment of renewable energy happen faster. It’s also a way for more people to get involved in renewable energy. Part of the problem right now is if you want to install a solar energy system you need to own a building like a house or a commercial building.
You also need to have upfront capital around $7,000-8,000 which is out of reach for most people. With SolShare you don’t have that much capital to own solar energy systems and receive some of the benefits from them. In many ways, solar is more democratic and accessible than other investment options out there.
What Changes Have You Seen When You Started In Renewable Energy?
The most significant one is that the price of solar has dropped has come down by about 85%. The interest in solar energy has grown significantly. Our revenues have grown on average by 20% a year over the past 10 years. Since the price of solar panels have gone down the rate of installation has grown faster than that because we’re installing more for the same amount of money.
The type of technology has changed as well. Since the beginning we’ve installed photovoltaic and solar electric energy. The price of natural gas came down but so did photovoltaics or solar panels which are produced largely in China.
In Your Opinion How Would You Want BC To Accelerate The Process Of Solar Deployment?
The biggest benefit would be for BC to create a feed-in tariff program similar to what we have in Ontario or what they had in Germany or other places in Europe where utilities pay a premium for green energy which incentivizes more people to install it. BC currently pays
Why Are You So Passionate About Renewable Energy And Transitioning Away From Fossil Fuels?
I’ve been trying to reduce ecological footprint in a lot of areas of my life. I’ve made changes to my transportation choices by cycling everywhere. I first became interested in solar when I explored installing panels on my own roof. I looked around in Vancouver around to see if anyone else was doing it and there really wasn’t much going on with solar energy so I got together with some other people and set up a company, Vancouver Renewable Energy Co-Operative (VREC) that started to deploy grid-tie solar energy systems in Vancouver.
Most importantly, I have a two-year-old daughter and I’d like to leave the world a better place for her than when I came into it.