SolarCity Closes $338 Million Round for Commercial Solar and Energy Storage, Plus Residential
Can the company figure out the best way to pair C&I storage with PV?
SolarCity closed two major rounds of funding this week that will give a boost to its residential and commercial solar businesses, and could possibly breathe new life into a languishing commercial and industrial (C&I) solar market.
On April 7, the California-based company announced it had closed the second round of financing as part of its renewable energy tax equity investment program with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and another investor. The program will finance approximately $188 million in solar projects, covering the up-front cost of the solar equipment and installation.
On April 6, SolarCity announced it had closed a $150 million round of non-recourse financing with Credit Suisse to support deployment of commercial solar energy systems, including battery storage systems.
The news builds on last year’s announcement that SolarCity had activated a $1 billion fund in partnership with Credit Suisse that is expected to finance more than 300 megawatts of solar for businesses, schools and government organizations across the U.S.
SolarCity is widely known as the largest residential solar installer in the U.S., but has also climbed to the top of the commercial and industrial space, claiming the number one spot for installations in 2014 and 2015, according to the GTM Research U.S. PV Leaderboard.
“Our asset portfolio enables us to continually bring in new capital from top tier institutional and corporate investors,” said Jeff Munson, director of structured finance of SolarCity, in a statement. “Additionally, our proprietary, in-house technology provides us competitive advantages that have led us to become one of the top commercial solar providers in the U.S.”
SolarCity’s commercial offering leverages ZS Peak, a proprietary mounting system that integrates the solar panel with the racking hardware, reducing project build time from multiple weeks to a just a few days.
Battery storage projects will be supported by DemandLogic, which is SolarCity’s dedicated battery for businesses aimed at beating utilities’ demand charges. Developed with energy storage technology from Tesla, DemandLogic is equipped with autonomous, learning software to optimize savings.
This isn’t SolarCity’s first move in the C&I solar-plus-storage space. The company launched its energy storage product for businesses in 2013. Currently, DemandLogic is officially only available for customers in California, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program database lists SolarCity’s commercial storage pipeline at 4.3 megawatts, of which only 505 kilowatts have been deployed, according to Ravi Manghani, senior energy storage analyst at GTM Research.