Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taking in more sun with Clean Power Finance

(Cross-posted from the Green Blog)

This morning, at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF-West) in San Francisco, I announced a new $75 million investment to create an initial fund with Clean Power Finance that will help up to 3,000 homeowners go solar. This is our second investment in residential solar, and we’ve now invested more than $850 million overall to develop and deploy clean energy.

As we said when we made our first residential solar investment, we think it makes a lot of sense to use solar photovoltaic (PV) technology—rooftop solar panels—to generate electricity right where you need it at home. It greens our energy mix by using existing roof space while avoiding transmission constraints, and it can be cheaper than drawing electricity from the traditional grid.

Purchasing a solar system is a major home improvement, but the upfront cost has historically been one of the biggest barriers for homeowners. Solar installers across the country don’t always have the resources to find financing for customers, or the capital to provide it themselves. And for investors like Google, banks and others, it can be difficult to enter a fragmented solar market with many companies, and get connected to individual homeowners.

That’s where Clean Power Finance comes in. They’ve developed an open platform that connects installers with investors like Google to provide financing to homeowners. Solar installers sign up with Clean Power Finance to get access to the company’s comprehensive sales solutions, including consumer financing from investors, like the Google fund. This enables installers to sell more systems and grow their business. The installer builds the system, the investor (in this case, Google) owns it, and homeowners pay a monthly payment for the system, at a price that’s often less than paying for energy from the grid. Maintenance and performance are taken care of by Clean Power Finance and its network of installers.


Owned by Google, operated by Clean Power Finance and installed by American Vision Solar, the Colin family of Santa Clarita, Calif. has a 4.14 kW solar system

This innovative and scalable model makes business sense for Google, Clean Power Finance, solar installers and homeowners too. We’re excited to be one of the first investors to partner with Clean Power Finance and enable the company to continue forging strong relationships with solar installers (like the ones they announced last week with SunLogic, California Solar Systems, American Vision Solar—learn more on Clean Power Finance’s website). By making financing more readily available, the Clean Power Finance platform has the potential to lower costs and accelerate adoption of solar energy.

We’ve already installed a 1.6MW rooftop solar installation at the Googleplex back in 2007. Now, through Clean Power Finance and our previous investment this year, we’re hoping to have an even larger impact. We look forward to watching our funding help more than 10,000 homeowners generate clean electricity from the sun.