A spate of recent deals indicate solar financiers and installers are ramping up for a strong 2011, notes Lux Research. And there’s a new trend afoot: solar installers migrating east.
March 10, 2011 – It’s been a busy couple of late-winter months for solar firms seeking funding, notes Lux Research. Among the deals since December:
- Solar financing startup Sungevity: $15M (participants: Greener Capital, Firelake Capital, and Brightpath Capital Partners, and others);
- Solar Universe: $7M (led by RockPort Capital);
- Verengo Solar Plus: $9.7M (via Angeleno Group);
- Solar Power Partners: $3M (debt and securities);
- SolarCity: $40M fundraising for residential projects (via Citi)
All together, these funding moves (note that the three installers on that list offer financing plans) suggest financiers and installers are gearing up for strong domestic demand in 2011, on the back of ITC cash grant renewal and recent COE loan guarantees, writes Lux Research’s Matthew Feinstein, in a research note. And as the German market slows and Asia manufacturers ramp capacity, prices should continue dropping which will make US installations more economically attractive. These funding moves will help installers provide financing and leases for customer to satisfy demand and push module supplies in the field, he notes.
In addition to those funding moves, SolarCity acquired Clean Currents Solar and groSolar’s residential businesses, which give it a foothold in the US East Coast — a trend driven by vertically-integrated Asian players responding to European subsidy cuts by buying up US demand, Feinstein notes. Outside California, most installers tend to be small and local operations, but bigger CA-based installers will need to follow the same cross-country expansion route, he says — expanding eastward with financing options and low-cost systems. Some may find it unpalatable, though, and downright challenging in some local areas lacking the generous incentives they’re used to in CA, he adds.