Legends Solar offers rooftop solar—without the roof.
Legends Solar, a startup based out of Brooklyn, New York is creating a completely new product that would give everyday investors the ability to buy panels on commercial-scale solar projects and earn monthly dividends as they generate and sell electricity.
“It’s rooftop solar without the rooftop,” said Legends Solar co-founder Nera Lerner. “Millennial investors know that many products place them in investments that harm the environment or go against their values. With Legends Solar, you can sidestep traditional markets and invest directly in renewable energy infrastructure.
A diverse background in economics, art, and solar
Nera immigrated to the United States from Ukraine with her parents in the 1990s and grew up in New York. As a student, she studied Economics and was active with several student-led environmental advocacy organizations on campus. “My involvement with these organizations left me with the lasting impression that many communities throughout the United States had an opportunity to contribute to climate resilience in a really holistic way,” Nera said.
After college, Nera worked as a Gallery Director and Curator, “I was working with thought leaders from different institutions and sectors, some were motivated by social good as a core aspect of art collecting, whereas others were more interested in financial return,” Nera said. “This is actually very similar to today’s sustainable investors.”
“On the one hand, we see enormous world-altering donations like Yvon Chouinard’s donation of shares to the “Patagonia Purpose Trust”, but on the other hand, we see institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals seeking investment grade renewable energy bonds and other securities,” said Nera.
What is Legends Solar?
Legends Solar is an online solar investing platform that allows investors to buy into commercial-scale solar installations and collect a monthly dividend based on the productivity of their panels. Using thoughtful design and UI, Legends contextualizes income from investing in solar with the impact solar panels produce using real time data visualization.
Imagine glancing down at your smartphone and seeing the performance of your micro-solar investment in real time. How is the weather affecting the output of your panels? How much are you earning per hour from your investment? Want to add another solar panel to your investment portfolio? With the Legends Solar app, you’re only a few clicks away from expanding your portfolio by adding a small percentage of a full-size commercial solar project.
“You can log in and buy as little as one solar panel,” Nera said. “Using our monitoring software, the Legends Rooftop, you’ll see how your investment is performing in real time. This builds trust, clarity, and accountability that traditional investing products struggle to provide.”
Invest remotely in rooftop solar
“Many investors are completely cut out not only from the benefits of rooftop solar but also the experience of watching the clock on their carbon footprint turn backward,” Nera said.
There are millions of millennial investors without access to a rooftop for a residential solar panel installation. “Many investors are completely cut out not only from the benefits of rooftop solar but also the experience of watching the clock on their carbon footprint turn backward,” Nera said.
With Legends Solar an investor can purchase as little as one solar panel located at a commercial-scale solar farm in another location. The revenue generated by the panels is paid out as a cash dividend.
Commercial solar under $1M
Commercial solar projects belong to an asset class that was previously only accessible to wealthy investors. Legends Solar is opening up solar investing to a completely new market by creating a platform for crowdfunding commercial solar projects. Customers can purchase an operating commercial solar panel for less than $1,000.
Real-time data monitoring
Legends Solar combines successful concepts: solar energy monitoring and investment monitoring. “The folks that do have rooftop solar are checking their monitoring software multiple times a day,” Nera said. “We’ve adapted that experience so many homeowners enjoy, and made it available to everyone.”
“Someone on their apartment couch can check their device and feel a bit closer to their values, their wealth, and the impact on the environment they are making,” Nera said. “Look at how people are using the Robinhood App. They can check and see what stocks are being traded the most and they feel like they are stakeholders in something larger than themselves.”
On the Legends Solar app, investors can log in and view real-time data such as how much their panels are producing, how the weather is affecting the output, their daily earned dividends and more. “Solar is really amazing because it’s an idea so many of us understand and it’s very data-rich,” Nera said. “We’re taking a renewable energy asset and all we can learn from it and putting that information into a digital environment that our customers can control, understand and engage with.”
Legend Solar offers easy ways for investors to calculate their return on investment.
A bipartisan investment opportunity
Not only does the Legends Solar crowdfunding platform lower the barrier to entry to invest in commercial solar projects, but it also provides a universal opportunity to invest in clean energy. “At the end of the day, it’s a good investment,” Nera said, “The benefit of investing is independent of any notion of who you think you are.”
Unlike investing in securities, where the financial performance of the assets is clouded by management and bureaucracy, an investment in solar energy-producing assets offers transparent, real-time financial performance data. Investors can log in and monitor the financial performance of their holdings on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Dividends from the output of the solar panels are distributed to investors on a monthly basis.
“We’re not asking people to sacrifice who they are for what they are going to invest in,” Nera said.
Using commercial rooftops
Legends Solar identifies project locations on the rooftops of commercial buildings located throughout the United States. Legends acquires operational solar panels then sells them to investors ‘by-the-panel’ on its platform. Investors can view and monitor their solar panels in multiple locations in real time on the Legends Solar app.
By using commercial rooftops, Legends Solar is utilizing otherwise unused commercial rooftops and transforming them into an energy-producing asset, co-owned by a variety of everyday investors. This cooperative model for purchasing commercial solar infrastructure puts the power back into the hands of the people and widens the potential reach and impact of green energy production.
“There’s something really thrilling about being able to participate in a meaningful way,” Nera said. “It’s an incredibly healing experience to have community and to be able to be a part of something bigger than you are.”
Next steps for Legends Solar
Interested investors can sign up on the Legends Solar website for priority access to the first project when it goes live. Their team is already in the process of vetting their first commercial install location and preparing the project for investors.
“Annual solar installs are forecast to double over the next five years, but most millennial investors are locked out from participating,” Nera said.
“Annual solar installs are forecast to double over the next five years, but most millennial investors are locked out from participating,” Nera said. “This dovetails with exploding interest in sustainable and ESG investing. We plan to leverage those two trends to create a popular investment product that is financially mature and responds to the values and aspirations of our investors.”