SolarCity Raises Another $81 Million

SolarCity, which plans to go public later this year, has raised another round of equity financing, $81 million.

The financing will fund SolarCity’s expansion of sales, marketing and operations, technology development and potential acquisitions. 

Silver Lake Kraftwerk and Valor Equity Partners co-led the round, which also included investments from Nicholas J. Pritzker, partner at Tao Ventures and senior development advisor for Hyatt Hotels Corp., and Shea Ventures, an affiliate of SolarCity partner Shea Homes. SolarCity Chairman Elon Musk and existing SolarCity investor DBL Investors also participated.

"Individuals and organizations of all shapes and sizes are fed up with the growing cost and consequences of traditional energy," says Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO. "This investment provides SolarCity the resources to explore new products and services and identify new geographies and potential acquisitions as we seek to deliver better energy choices to more customers."

The company uses the increasingly popular solar leasing model, where homeowners and businesses can get solar on their roof without upfront installation costs. They merely pay for electricity, which is set at long term rates, protecting them from rising utility prices.

In June, 2011, Google made its largest investment in renewable energy – $280 million to fund SolarCity residential solar installations. The Google Fund is SolarCity’s largest project financing fund and the largest residential solar fund created in the U.S. 

In November, 2011, SolarCity announced a deal with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to finance the debt portion of its $1 billion SolarStrong project to install solar PV on military housing across the US.

The project will double the number of residential solar systems in the US.

SolarCity is now the second biggest commercial solar installer in the US, after SunPower. While SunPower focuses on large systems and has a 9% market share, SolarCity has thus far focused on small systems to reach its 6% share, but those systems are getting larger, according to GTM Research:

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