April 27, 2012 in Solar
Founded in 2006 in San Mateo, California, the rockstar company SolarCity provides (among many offerings) the opportunity for homeowners to switch to solar – wait for it –
Even with generous incentives (subsidies, feed-in tariffs, rebates, SRECs), homeowners often shy away from investing in solar energy due to the high initial investment cost (~$10,000-$20,000 before incentives). SolarCity eliminates that capital risk with its SolarPPA and SolarLease options – where SolarCity invests in, owns, and maintains the solar panels, and the residential customer pays SolarCity pays for the solar power by month “just like your normal utility bill – only lower”. With no upfront costs.
(See SolSolution which provides a similar financing model for schools)
How does SolarCity do it? SolarCity finances this Power Purchase Agreement model by seeking investors that have [lots of] money to invest in the clean energy sector and that can benefit from the 30% federal business tax credit.
Like Google for instance, who partnered with SolarCity in 2011 to create a $280 million fund for residential solar projects.
SolarCity founders (and brothers) Lyndon and Peter Rive are hoping to attract other Fortune 100 companies, and they have high hopes to expand and bring affordable solar across the US and internationally – and as the Huffington Post describes, they are seeking [solar] “world domination”.
The Rive brothers’ ambitious nature is akin to that of their Chairman (and cousin) Elon Musk who helped developed the idea for SolarCity. Before SolarCity, Musk had already revolutionized the internet industry (PayPal), the aerospace industry (SpaceX), the electric car industry (Tesla Motors). And now the clean energy sector.
And he is 40 years old.
(This article just might have been an excuse to reference Musk.)
Anyway, SolarCity has demonstrated its resilience in a recently rather fragile industry through its innovative full-service model and constantly evolving projects.
In fact, recent news says that SolarCity is partnering with its cousin-company Tesla to develop economic battery-backed solar systems.
And - an IPO for SolarCity is on the horizon for 2012.
So either you let SolarCity invest in your house. Or you will soon be able to invest in SolarCity. Either way, I think you’ll win.