Equity Crowdfunding Regulations  by  Kevin Woodbridge

By Kevin Woodbridge

In recent years, the internet has proven a highly lucrative portal through which entrepreneurs could raise funds to start and/or boost their ventures. According to Kevin Woodbridge, with options such as crowdfunding and online angel investors, this platform has helped many build up formidable enterprises spanning across almost all industries. At the most basic level, these sources of funding translate into either donations or loans. Kevin Woodbridge notes that both these types of financing come with challenges that have not always made them an ideal option for all investors and the issuers.

Now thanks to the full implementation and publishing of regulations pertaining to Title III of the JOBS Act of 2012, it has become possible for business owners to legally drum up equity financing online. Kevin Woodbridge confirms that this avenue of financing has long been blocked off, due to the many ways in which investors are likely to be duped with no real recourse to recover their investment. After more than a three year wait, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has finally published regulations that make equity crowdfunding a legal means by which to raise capital online. This means that business owners can now solicit for new shareholders using online portals, within certain parameters.

For Kevin Woodbridge, this final step in making equity crowdfunding a viable option in raising capital means that entrepreneurs can now capitalize on the biggest online platform in advertising their offering. Not only can they entice online users to click through to the internet portal facilitating this investment, they can also undertake direct communication with potential investors in the same way.

Kevin Woodbridge also points out the benefit for non-accredited investors, who are usually severely restricted in such types of investment opportunities. Although the amount of money they can risk on such equity stakes is curtailed, they do still have the opportunity to buy in. According to the regulations, investors with an annual income or net worth not exceeding $100,000 may not invest more than $2,000, or 5% of the lesser of the investor’s annual income or net worth.

Many industry experts, like Kevin Woodbridge, consider this limitation to be an attempt by Congress to protect these small investors from devastating financial loss in the event these businesses fail. Kevin Woodbridge does consider this approach advisable in view of other rules that prevent investors from re-selling their stake for up to one year from the time the crowdfunding offer is taken up.

The crowdfunding issuer is also subject to a series of rules of regulations that are meant to help provide potential investors with ample information on the company they are buying into. Having to provide certain financial statements, depending on the size of the offering, and disclose the business plan is considered a good way to help investors gain stronger understanding of the risk they are undertaking. Kevin Woodbridge does however draw attention to the flip side that these and other numerous required disclosures may prove a hindrance to businesses looking to raise capital this wa

Equity crowdfunding has added a new facet in business financing for small and medium sized businesses looking to raise no more than $1 million over a year. For industry experts like Kevin Woodbridge, it remains to be seen if there will be a strong uptake in this niche given the many rules and regulations put in place. With less effort required of the issuers when considering financing options like peer-to-peer lending and crowdsourcing, it seems that the government may need to further reevaluate their approach to equity crowdfunding if it is to gain a foothold in the market. When it comes to business financing, entrepreneurs are more likely to take the path of least resistance, making it likely that equity financing may end up a failure unless reviewed.

 

Copyright © 2015 Kevin Woodbridge

Turning Air Into Clean Water By Kevin Woodbridge

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As we become more aware of how human activity affects the environment, it is clear that the world is running out of many natural resources. Crude oil is perhaps one of the most widely known resources that some of us may actually see run out in our lifetime. It is however not as necessary to our survival as clean drinking water. According to Kevin Woodbridge, the world’s supply of potable water is far from adequate. Information gleaned from sources such as Water.org suggests that over 750 million people across the world lack access to safe water, and an estimated 840,000 die annually from water related diseases.

We require water for all manner of uses including drinking, bathing and cleaning. Kevin Woodbridge has found that unfortunately, a growing number of our natural sources of water from both ground and surface levels have become contaminated due to industrial effluent, untreated sewage runoff, natural arsenic poisoning and more. The problem of water quality is now a concern for both developed and developing nations. Kevin Woodbridge also calls attention to the cost of obtaining and supplying safe drinking water to populations, which is becoming so expensive that governments are finding it difficult to undertake this without passing on some of the expense onto citizens.

Some may imagine that given that 70% of the planet is covered in water, this should not be a problem. Unfortunately, majority of this water is salty and much of the desalination technology at use today leaves behind concentrated brine that is harmful to the environment. Kevin Woodbridge points to a 2010 National Geographic article that indicated that the continued use of inland desalination plants could raise salinity levels in water and make desalination even more expensive to undertake.

As more governments and NGOs move towards safeguarding and cleaning up of existing natural water sources, Kevin Woodbridge asserts there is still the problem of the millions of people who lack access to potable water. Atmospheric water generators (AWGs), such as those offered by Air to Water Technologies Inc., are gaining ground as viable solutions to this problem, especially in arid regions.

According to research conducted by Kevin Woodbridge, these devices work by extracting moisture from humid ambient air and turning it into pure drinking water. There is plenty of moisture in the air even in the midst of the Sahara.  However, in its vaporized form, it can be of no use to a thirsty person. The AWGs make it possible to turn this humidity into drinkable water. Depending on the type of device acquired, several hundred gallons can be converted on a daily basis.

Kevin Woodbridge reports that these devices are yet to become commercially popular, as there are other more affordable ways to treat dirty water and make it drinkable. There is also the fact that in most developed nations and even major cities and towns of developing countries, access to water can be fairly cheap. The use of AWGs has however taken hold in the military, for use during campaigns in arid areas of Iraq and Afghanistan, to name a few. They make more sense than having to transport tankers of water in.

They are also becoming a viable option on ships and on islands. Haiti has become a poster child for AWG use thanks to the damage to public sanitations systems that has encouraged the spread of cholera. Kevin Woodbridge has found that even developed regions that are prone to certain natural disasters, like hurricanes and tornadoes, are also investing in these devices as a backup, in case of damage to water and sewer lines. People in these regions are often advised to avoid using tap water until they can be assured of no cross contamination after the destructive weather phenomenon is over.

Advanced Waste Management Technologies To Gain Popularity In 2015 – Kevin Woodbridge

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Garbage collection is something most people would love to have done as soon as their bins are full. At many locations, there are often instances where some residents have their bins overflowing, well before pick dates. Kevin Woodbridge confirms that this is not only a smelly and unsightly problem, it is also a public health risk. The problem is that waste collection firms would rather limit the number of pickups in such a way as to ensure efficient use of resources.

A recently released Global Smart Waste Market report predicts that a 16.82% compound annual growth rate will be experienced in 2014-2019, with the use of new waste management technologies. According to Kevin Woodbridge, some of the advancements that are already being considered and used by developed countries include radio frequency interface devices (RFIDs) and sensor based containers.

These technologies have proven useful to a number of waste collection providers as they enable the management to confirm not just that their trucks have serviced certain areas, but also the specific bins that have been emptied. Kevin Woodbridge has found that there is often confusion in urban areas served by different waste collection firms and authorities. Similar looking bins that are stashed within the same proximity often leads to some bins not being emptied, and conflicts with customers wondering why pickups were not carried out as promised.

With RFID and sensor based technology, there is now a way to ensure all bins are emptied when a truck arrives in the area. This not only allows for better efficiency in service provision and logistics, but also savings in fuel expenses, as trucks do not need to be sent back because some bins were missed. Kevin Woodbridge believes that this level of accountability also allows consumers to feel more confident in their choice of smart waste collection provider.

Data collected from these devices can also allow companies to more efficiently plan collection routes, dates and timing. They can also better manage staff activity. Remotely tracking the positions of their fleet in real-time is a good way to ensure that employees are not wasting time, or diverting off scheduled routes. Kevin Woodbridge suggests that this can be a means of picking out top employees who may be worthy of some reward or promotion.

Another technology that has been emphasized in the report is plasma gasification. If this innovation becomes widely used, it will have a huge impact on the landfilling, composting, recycling and incineration of waste. Kevin Woodbridge has found that it involves the use of plasma torch technology to turn carbon-based waste into syngas, and the remaining non-organic waste into slag.

Syngas, or synthetic gas, is considered an excellent clean energy source that results in little air pollution. With the resulting compressed slag formed into bricks usable as construction materials, it would appear that with time landfills might soon become a thing of the past.
Kevin Woodbridge points to the growing problem of landfills, which take up acres of space and can easily lead to devaluing of surrounding properties thanks to the smell and ugliness. With time, any toxic substances in the garbage can easily leach into the soil and affect groundwater. Hazardous materials like mercury, cadmium and acids are known to be common culprits often found in garbage. Organic waste also emits greenhouse gases that are considered a leading cause of global warming and climate change.

With advanced waste management technologies, countries can not only improve on how they collect municipal solid waste, but also ensure that in their disposal, there is benefit derived. Kevin Woodbridge believes that being able to turn waste into a clean energy source and construction materials is an excellent way to help protect the environment and boost the renewable energy industry.

Drop in Renewable Energy Cost To Continue

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In recent months, there has been much rejoicing amongst consumers thanks to the falling world oil prices. It is now much cheaper to fill up your tank at the pump, and even utility bills have begun to drop in value. It is good news all round for everyone, except oil exporters. Oil has long been acknowledged as an important source of energy, but one that has an expiry date attached.

Thankfully, recent reports also indicate that costs associated to renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are expected to plummet further over the coming years. Kevin Woodbridge points to figures released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) that estimate renewable energy costs will drop by about 40% by 2017. The report pays special attention to solar photovoltaic (PV) power, which has successfully experienced a reduction in costs by about half over the last four years.

According to renewable energy experts like Kevin Woodbridge, this trend is expected to further continue thanks to new innovations, such as perovskites, that are expected to help improve solar energy conversion efficiency. The IRENA report however suggests that it is not just solar PV technology that will aid in reducing costs. Kevin Woodbridge has found that the report also places some emphasis on developments being made in solar thermal technology and storage.

Kevin Woodbridge also indicates the increased commitment and investment in renewable energy from the government. This interest may be thanks to the success already being experienced by countries such as Germany, where over a quarter of the country’s energy needs is being satisfied by renewables, and there have been great strides achieved in reducing emissions. Thanks to the country’s leadership opting to aggressively pursue clean energy policies, Germany is not only ahead of the curve in terms of renewable technologies, but has also managed to revitalize several industries, and add over 1.5 million jobs to the economy.

Utility scale solar investors are not the only ones that have begun to enjoy this drop in costs. Kevin Woodbridge has found that even residential solar modules have dropped in price by about 75% since 2009. In fact, for countries that have fully embraced the use of solar power, like Australia, France and Germany, the costs are already lower than when tapping into grid electricity.

Kevin Woodbridge believes that similar success is also being experienced when it comes to wind energy. The report released by IRENA indicates that in certain areas of the U.S., wind energy costs can be as low as $0.04/kWh, and $0.09/kWh in parts of Africa. This is considerably lower than when using fossil fuels whose cost is estimated to lie between $0.7/kWh and $0.19/kWh. This wide disparity is partially attributed to the health problems linked to air pollution that results from fossil fuel combustion.

Beside the cost of the inputs, it is also believed that installation and customer acquisition costs will also fall. In fact, given the expected rise in demand for solar at a residential and industrial level, Kevin Woodbridge expects that will be more jobs created in the sector to accommodate this growing need.

Kevin Woodbridge believes that the IRENA report is intended to help push more countries to commit to making a change to renewable energy sources. The data provided in the report is expected to help dispel false assumptions about renewable energy sources being expensive and uncompetitive. With several European nations already reaping the rewards of having begun to implement clean energy initiatives early on, it is hoped that the rest of the world will soon follow.

In fact, Kevin Woodbridge trusts that with oil producing nations like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) already taking up the mantle, the global energy transition may soon pick up momentum. The UAE has already begun looking to its non-oil sectors to help drive the nation’s future growth and is using oil revenue to fund solar energy and sustainability research.

Over 50% of 2014’s New US Electricity Capacity Derived from Solar and Wind

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Although more than half of energy produced in the US comes from non-renewable sources like coal, oil and natural gas, there have been great strides made to help reverse this trend in recent years. Latest reports released by CleanTechnica indicate that 53% of new US electricity capacity in 2014 came from solar and wind installations. Kevin Woodbridge points to this as a sign of the changing attitudes that now favor investment in renewables.

These statistics are also great news for industry experts like Dr. Allan Hoffman. Kevin Woodbridge identifies Hoffman as a retired senior executive at the Department of Energy (DOE). He has worked tirelessly during his career to advance the cause of increased investment in renewable energy sources. It was with growing dissatisfaction that he observed administration after administration neglect the potential of renewables. This however changed until the Obama administration, during which greater investment and energy production has been achieved.

Industry experts, like Kevin Woodbridge, agree that non-renewable resources like petroleum, gas and nuclear energy will still continue to be major players in the energy sector for many more decades. They however feel that Hoffman’s prediction of their diminishing importance will also come to pass. He has forecasted that environmental concerns and economic realities will likely push more companies and individuals to go green.

According to data provided by CleanTechnica, solar contributed 5.2GW, while wind added 4GW. In fact, despite natural gas making the single largest contribution to energy capacity (7.5GW), this was outdone by the total contribution of all renewable sources that came in at 10GW. Kevin Woodbridge believes that with investment in renewable sources now gaining momentum, it will not be long before they take up the top positions as energy sources for the country.

Hoffman has singled out the automotive industry as one of the key signs that corporations are beginning to understand the value of making changes to their strategic plans. The manner in which many are now seeking to design efficient electric cars is an indication of their desire to move away from fossil fuel reliant vehicles. While he does acknowledge that petroleum will still be a part of the transportation industry for decades to come, he does point out that the majority of car trips are restricted to a distance of about 40 miles. This is a distance that Kevin Woodbridge confirms most electric cars can comfortably undertake without needing to recharge.

Even the military is looking to get in on the renewables bandwagon. The US Airforce is investigating the possibility of using biofuels and biojet diesel in place of fossil fuel. The US Navy is also seeking to invest in solar energy storage solutions. According to Kevin Woodbridge, the expectation is to change the way ships will be powered.

The impressive wind energy harnessed was also commended by Hoffman who believes that offshore wind turbines are the most exciting renewable technology yet to be fully exploited. He asserted that winds tend to be stronger and more steady offshore than on land, providing a higher wind capacity factor. There is also the belief that engineers can build larger turbines for use offshore, than they can for land installation. Hoffman confirms that there are already plans for 10-20MW turbines.

Although there are shipping lanes to be avoided, there is still plenty of space available to install these turbines at isolated offshore locations along the East, West, Gulf and Great Lakes Coasts. Kevin Woodbridge points to a 2010 report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that estimates the potential for up to 4000GW of energy capacity from offshore wind turbines.

With more investment being made into renewable sources, and scientific discoveries and innovations that are helping to make them more efficient and productive, Kevin Woodbridge believes that we are well on our way to making renewables a way of life for future generations.

Solar Industry Jobs Growth 2014 by Kevin Woodbridge

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A recent National Solar Jobs Census report released by the Solar Foundation shows impressive growth in the labor market, with over 31,000 new jobs created in the sector last year. According to Kevin Woodbridge, the Solar Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works toward conducting research and disseminating information to the public on solar energy.

The report indicated that ever since the foundation started collecting data on solar jobs in 2010, there has been a cumulative increase in jobs created of over 86%. The increase achieved last year alone was 20 times higher than that recorded during 2013, and ten times higher than the national average employment rate of 1.9% over the same period. The report also established that one out of every 78 jobs created in the U.S. were in the solar industry.

Kevin Woodbridge notes that the 21.8% growth brings the total number of employment figures to a current 173,807, up from 142,698 that was recorded in November 2013. In order for the jobs to be counted, the employees needed to have devoted at least 50% or more of their work to solar related activities. Out of the 173,807 workers in the industry, 157,500 are 100% devoted to solar related activities. According to Kevin Woodbridge, the news was further buoyed by reports that solar companies projected a further 36,000 jobs are to be created and filled by the end of 2015.
About 55% of the jobs created this past year pertained to installation work, while 19% related to manufacturing. Kevin Woodbridge noted that many of the jobs created were a boon to the economy, especially as they offered employment opportunities to those without college degrees. There was also a healthy diversity in the workforce indicated with a growing number of Hispanic, Asian, African American, women and veterans making up the new employees. The jobs created were also found to be fairly well paying, with most employees earning $20-$24 per hour.
The Solar Foundation attributed part of this success to the growing popularity of solar power systems. Kevin Woodbridge points the growing decline in the cost of such systems, and the increased cost of accessing power from electricity grids in recent years. As solar power installations become more affordable, and more people seek to switch over to renewable energy sources, these gains are expected to continue.

The price of solar installations are also likely to keep dropping as more research is carried out by labs across the world on how to lower the cost of components. In recent months, there has been much publicity given to the successful testing of the mineral perovskite as an alternative the costlier silicon by several research facilities. Kevin Woodbridge believes that if the results continue to be positive, and the mineral can be made into a stable converter, it will drastically reduce the cost of building photovoltaic cells in the coming years.

These gains may however be stemmed by the upcoming expiration of the 30% investment tax credit on residential solar in 2017. Industry experts like Kevin Woodbridge believe that although the outlook is highly positive for the coming 3 years, the future beyond this point is uncertain unless congress agrees to extend the credit.

There are hopes that even without the tax credit, the cost of buying the systems and installation will have dropped sufficiently in the next few years to make switching over to this renewable source still cheaper than relying on power plants. Kevin Woodbridge believes that with the growing number of industry players and competition, the race to make solar power more affordable and efficient is only just heating up and should bring even greater benefits to end consumers soon.

Cheaper Solar Cells in 2015 by Kevin Woodbridge

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Silicon has been for a long time the main component in solar cells that facilitates the conversion of solar energy into electricity. Unfortunately, it is also a very pricey mineral to come by and one of the key reasons investing in solar systems is an aspiration out of reach for most households. Based on recent revelations by scientists, Kevin Woodbridge believes this may soon change.

A recently discovered mineral, called perovskite, has been tested under lab conditions and proven just as efficient as silicon in the conversion of solar energy. Perovskite is a crystalline mineral that was discovered in the Ural Mines of Russia and named after the Russian scientist Lev Perovksi. It is also been found in other countries, such as the U.S., Switzerland and Italy, but can be more cheaply produced in the lab.

According to Kevin Woodbridge, with each subsequent test that has been carried out, the results just keep getting better. Although perovskites are years away from being used in the commercial construction of solar power systems, the results indicate the ability to surpass silicon’s ability as a converter.

Kevin Woodbridge confirms that the majority of solar power harnessed in the year 2014 was thanks to the use of silicon derived from sand. The best quality solar cells in the market can convert up to 24.2% of sunlight into electricity. With the recently discovered perovskites already having surpassed the 20% conversion rate, this resource is seen as a key contender for future innovations in solar cell construction.

Based on research carried out by the University of New South Wales in Australia and the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, Kevin Woodbridge estimates that the use of perovskites may result in conversion rates surpassing even 40%. This is thanks to the mineral’s ability to absorb a broader spectrum of light than silicon based cells. Aside from this amazing result on early tests done using the hybrid solar cell, Kevin Woodbridge also points to the financial cost benefit.

The current cost of manufacturing perovskite is a third that of producing silicon from sand. This price reduction is likely to help drive down the cost of solar cells and make buying such systems more affordable for consumers. Although the price on silicon-based solar panels has dropped tremendously over the last decade, they are still considered a luxury investment by most ordinary households.

Scientists believe it will take a few years to determine how to properly integrate perovskites into solar cells because of their unstable nature that makes them easily damaged by heat and water. Kevin Woodbridge believes this is why the hybrid solar cell models tested were built using both perovskite and silicon. Similar research findings have also been published by scientists from Stanford University.

Stanford University scientist Michael McGehee and his team stacked the perovskites on a silicon solar cell. They found that silicon was an ideal choice as the bottom cell, with perovskites layered on top. Their tests resulted in conversion rates of over 20%, at par with purely silicon based cells.

Silicon has for over the last 15 years stagnated in terms of improving its conversion rates. Kevin Woodbridge believes that this indicates that silicon based solar cells have reached their conversion peak at 25%, and that with the new potential of perovskites, future consumers can now look forward to more energy harnessing and cheaper solar cells.

The perovskites they used in the Stanford University tests was made by combining lead, iodide and methyl ammonium. There are different types of synthetic perovskites that are being tested by labs around the world in the race to create the most stable and low cost hybrid photovoltaic cells for commercial use.

Solar Power Now A Better Investment than Stocks

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Based on a recent study conducted by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, Kevin Woodbridge has learned that the majority of homeowners in at least 42 of the 50 U.S. states can enjoy lower utility costs by getting off their local grid and investing in a fully financed solar PV system. It has long been assumed that an investment in residential solar power is the preserve of the rich who can more easily afford the costly equipment and installation, but no more.

The study made use of several data metrics collected by online quote service EnergySage, including first year monthly average utility savings, average cost per kilowatt over the expected 25 year lifespan of the solar array, and the value of investing in solar, relative to a long term investment in the S&P 500 stock index. According to Kevin Woodbridge, the study found that even with utility rate disparity across different regions, savings could still be achieved in the majority as consumers enjoying lower electricity prices tended to consume more energy units than those suffering higher rates.

Some of the initiatives that Kevin Woodbridge identified as being useful in bringing down the cost of solar investment include the federal tax credit, net metering, value-of-solar tariffs and state renewable portfolio standards. Kevin Woodbridge believes these measures have gone a long way in meeting their goal of encouraging the increased use of renewable energy sources amongst the states and making access to solar power affordable for lower income households.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that the median cost of residential solar power has fallen by about 60% over the last 15 years to $4.70 per watt, while EnergySage puts the current level at between $3.70 and $4.24. At these rates, the NC Clean Energy Technology Center study estimates that roughly 21 million households in the 42 states will save money by acquiring fully financed solar systems. 9 million households in 14 cities are also expected to make savings should they opt to buy the solar systems outright.

Since most consumers are unable to afford an outright cash purchase of solar photovoltaic systems, low cost financing would be an ideal solution. In the study’s results, Kevin Woodbridge found that with this low cost financing, with an assumed interest rate of 5%, residential homeowners would wind up paying less for electricity than if they continued to be hooked up to the local power grid.

According to Kevin Woodbridge, one of the reasons for the decline in solar power energy costs is the fall in prices on equipment. Many of the currently available solar components are more affordable now than they were a few years ago, and are expected to become more efficient in design, allowing for more harvesting of solar energy.

Kevin Woodbridge also believes that the non-hardware costs associated with solar PV system installation will drop in coming years. This refers to such expenses as those that arise from customer acquisition, installation, inspections and financing. These non-hardware costs account for more than half of the expense of investing in a solar PV system.

One of the reasons that the study found that an investment in solar energy would be more profitable than many of the top stock market index funds was the projected increase in electricity costs from utility companies and the expected decline in non-hardware costs related to solar PV systems. Kevin Woodbridge believes this theory will hold should the financial incentives offered by federal and state agencies, such as the federal tax credit, continue to be extended in the long term to the households.

In addition to the study’s conclusion that there is plenty of monthly savings and long term investment value to be had by investing in solar systems, Kevin Woodbridge also points to the property value added by such installations, which have an estimated lifespan of 25 years.