As interest in renewable energy continues to heat up in a movement fueled at least partially by state and federal tax incentives, the financial services industry is discovering another means of leveraging the trend: the installation of solar panels on the rooftops of consumer retail chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Walgreen Co. — a model that shows some potential to evolve into a new investment opportunity for individual investors.
Financing involves large banks' funding the cost of solar-panel installations for just about any business with a sizable flat roof in exchange for what amounts to a steady income stream paid by the business that is generating a portion of its own energy.
"The efficiency of solar-panel-generated energy has much improved over the past 25 years to the point where it's now comparable to coal- and gas-fired energy when you take into account the government incentives,"
"...projected to expand as long as there are buildings with flat roofs."
"This will eventually reach individual investors," likely inside some kind of packaged product such as a mutual fund.
"There's great political support for this right now, because everyone wants to cloak themselves in a green cape."