Category Archives: Environment


Well, didn’t think I was going to be updating my SolarCity post quite so soon.  But, they just announced new funding to the tune of approximately $344 million.

They will be selling 3.4 million shares of common stock at $46.54 per share as well as $200 million in convertible senior notes.  The stock offer price would have been right in line with the current value until the shares rocked up another 12% to close at $52.38 per share. 

While SolarCity has been bleeding cash in the past few income statements, they still had current assets of over $309 million as of June 30th.  Adding another $344 million will definitely help if they grow as they expect in 2014. 

Solar Photovoltaic Installer SolarCity

#SolarCity (SCTY) installs solar photovoltaic systems in homes, businesses and government buildings.  I recently purchased shares in this company so I’m not unbiased, but the story is still interesting.  Here’s their company website.
The company was founded in 2006 by Elon Musk, yes the same man who started a company that later became PayPal.  When PayPal was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, Musk owned 11.7% of the company.  He’s rolled that wealth into other ventures like Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity.
Renewable energy systems have always suffered on the economic front from the high upfront cost of installation.  SolarCity financing changed that by allowing customers to lease their system with no money down.  SolarCity owns and maintains the system; the business or homeowner pays for the energy they use, frequently at a lower rate than their currently utility bill.
On October 11th, while announcing their earnings, SolarCity said they installed 78 MW during the 3rd quarter of 2013.  This is up from the previously estimated 72 MW for this period.  Guidance for the full year continued at 278 MW.
However, the real news in that announcement was the guidance for 2014.  SolarCity now anticipates installing between 475 MW and 525 MW of capacity in 2014 – a 70-90% increase over 2013.  No surprise – the stock jumped over 20% in trading that day.
Now this doesn’t mean the future is unbelievably bright for SolarCity.  They will face changes to the federal investment tax credits in 2016, continuing challenges in financing the installations they’re making and ongoing competition from others in the industry.  They will also face the view of some that they may be a good company, but the price run up has made them a bad investment right now.
But isn’t it great, after all this time, to be realistically talking about solar electric playing a key role in our nation’s energy mix?

Kickstarter — Aqualibrium

Aqualibrium is a project seeking crowd-source funding on Kickstarter.

This project definitely has a lot of the right features that typically has me reaching for the credit card:.

  • Grow fresh organic produce anywhere
  • Teaching the next generation where our food comes from
  • Entertainment watching fish and plants grow.
So why haven’t I jumped?

Am I nervous that my not quite green thumb will show through?   I’ll admit, I’ve killed bonsai plants that survived for years before they met me?

Does the thought of buying fish and reminding myself to feed them give me pause?

Or does the promise of an easy-to-assemble kit with grow lights and doors sound a little too good?

Frankly, it’s probably a combination of these.  Fortunately, my hesitation is not universal.  As of October 8th, Aqualibrium has 374 backers and has raised over $92,000 toward their goal of $108,000.  With their funding, they plan to buy the dies needed for their unique indoor gardens.

It’s an interesting plan and would be fascinating to watch fish and plants in an indoor ecosystem.