Solar Installers Get Lion's Share of Venture Capital

For the first time, solar installers got the lion’s share of venture capital in Q1 2013. Looks like the shift from solar manufacturers to installers has been completed … for now.

Who would have guessed that solar leasing would be so popular? The biggest deals of the quarter went to solar leasing firms – out of eight companies funded, $58 million of the total $75 million went to solar leasing companies:
OneRoof Energy ($30 million) and Sungevity ($28 million).

Other funding rounds: eSolar ($12.8 million); Crystalsol ($11 million);  Goal Zero ($7 million) and PsomasFMG ($7 million), reports Mercom Capital in its first quarter report on the solar industry.  

Last year, about $2 billion was invested in solar leasing funds, mostly from Credit Suisse, Rabobank, Wells Fargo, Citi, and US Bancorp, bringing the cumulative total to $5 billion. The funds  pay the upfront costs for installing solar systems.

It used to be manufacturers who attracted venture capital, especially CIGS thin-film, which got $1 billion of $1.4 billion for thin film since 2010. But last year, 14 thin film companies went bankrupt, as a sign of the times, reports Mercom.

Overall, however, venture capital for solar is down. For Q1, $126 million was invested in 26 deals, down from $220 million in 27 deals in Q4 2012. This is the
second lowest quarter for VC funding since 2008, says Mercom.

Investors are looking for smaller deals that have innovative technologies and intellectual property – there’s little appetite for capital intensive deals.

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