The 4th annual Suncode Solar Hackathon, taking place in Oakland, CA on April 8th, 2017, saw a great turnout with fierce competition. The event, sponsored by Sunrun and DSM, and hosted by solar incubator and accelerator company Powerhouse, drew over 150 attendees, forming 23 teams for the competition. The teams were created Friday night, with each team consisting of a few developers and at least one solar industry professional, as suggested by Powerhouse.
The hacking began Friday night with the goal of launching an energy startup aimed at creating a solution to help advance solar industry growth. The teams were given suggested challenge questions to solve, but could solve alternative solar issues identified by their teams. The Sunrun sponsored challenge question that most groups aimed to solve was the following:
“Reimagine the Solar Homeowner Experience. What are customers interested in knowing about? How do they want to interact with the system? How do we maximize value for both the customer and the solar company? At what point in the process do they want a portal? Create a demonstration portal.”
The pitches began at 6:30 and continued into the late evening. Overall, the turnout of the event was great, with only standing room left by the end of the night.
My personal favorite pitch, which ended up being voted the people’s choice award, was REC Chain. The concept was to use Blockchain to validate and facilitate fair trading of Renewable Energy Certificates. The pitch seemed so complex that after the two-minute presentation, one judge asked if they had worked on this project before the Hackathon! The answer was of course no, as all participants were required to only work on their concept the day of the event. Instead, their work highlighted the advances that can be achieved over the course of a day when the bright minds of the California solar industry are gathered together.
While there were a variety of submissions, common themes that came up during the event were optimizing battery storage, qualifying marketing leads, and developing software optimization applications. There were a few that went off the beaten path, such as Independence American Media, which aims to alleviate the partisan nature of our clean tech news. The Energy Escort team also had an interesting app that simplified the process for customers to determine if they are using too much energy in real time. The app screen turns red for electrical overuse at high rate times, yellow if you should slow down on energy use, and green if it made sense to continue consuming energy.
Overall, the event embodied the entrepreneurial startup spirit that I had hoped for, and presented innovative ideas and concepts that addressed top solar industry issues. It will be interesting to follow how the teams that formed during the event develop, as this event has been the breeding grounds of numerous notable solar companies including Utility API, Powerhive, and Sunswarm.
On October 11th, Sustainable Capital Finance’s Maggie Parkhurst participated in a GRID Alternatives Women’s Build or “WE Build” event, in Richmond, California. This series of community focused solar panel installations is organized by the friendly and knowledgeable crews from Grid Alternatives and Solar Corps. “This experience showed me how a solar installation can positively affect the community. It took our group only one day to install the panels but the system will have a lasting positive impact on the homeowner’s quality of life and the environment.” – Maggie Parkhurst
GRID Alternatives is a solar nonprofit headquartered in Oakland, CA. Their mission is to give on-site job training while providing underserved homeowners with free or reduced price solar systems. The Women in Solar initiative aims to bring more women into the solar industry through on-site training, solar education and leadership opportunities.
GRID Alternatives provides important services for community members and useful skills for people trying to enter the solar workforce. SCF is excited to participate on future GRID projects and continue to support Grid Alternatives’ mission!
For more information on GRID Alternatives check out their site!
Shiraz Madan, CEO of Sustainable Capital Finance, will be attending the Solar Power Finance and Investment Summit on March 23rd in San Diego, CA. Key topics to be discussed include the recent extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and financing innovations in the solar sector.
The event is hosted by InfoCast and will be attended by numerous industry insiders. This event gives participants an opportunity to network and will explore industry trends through panels and interviews with industry experts. SCF is eager to add to the solar conversation and provide useful insights on the implications of the ITC extension for the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) solar financing division.
“I am looking forward to hearing the perspectives of key industry leaders,” said Shiraz Madan. “This is an exciting time for the industry and I’m eager to participate in the conversation.”
To schedule a meeting, or to learn more about upcoming events that SCF will be attending, please contact email@example.com.
Last month, the long winded debate regarding the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) step-down was put to rest. Under the revised legislation, the credit will stay at 30%, and will be extended 5 years with the credit set to scale down to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and then finally settling at 10% for commercial projects and 0% for residential by the end of 2022. With the extension in place, it is predicted that there will be an additional 225,000 solar jobs by 2020: this is nearly double the number of currently-existing solar jobs. (Source SEIA)
What does this mean for the solar industry as a whole? According to research conducted by SEIA and Greentech Media, the credit is projected to spur a 54% increase in total installations through 2020, which translates to roughly 20 GW of solar deployed annually. The commercial sector similarly predicted to increase by 51%. (Source GTM)
How will the credit specifically affect the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) sector? With lowered costs and less of a scramble towards the end of 2016, we will see a gradual increase in installs instead of a huge burst in Q4 of 2016. This is great news for the industry, but more importantly for the C&I sector, as this untapped market should begin to flourish in the wake of this extension.
Oftentimes, C&I projects require more time, coordination, and expertise to take projects to NTP. This extension will provide time for more project planning without a restrictive time frame, and will also allow for industry investors and developers to fully realize the sector’s growth potential.
SCF has standardized the underwriting process for commercial off-takers with the implementation of software tools and standardized ratings. This has mitigated many of the former risks associated with C&I, making the sector more attractive for investors.
While residential solar has always been on the forefront of solar installs, the C&I space will now be able to streamline efficiencies within businesses models, and work on lowering production costs and fees associated with commercial solar. This makes this sector more financially feasible for large-scale customers, a market that up to this point has been largely untapped.
New solar marketplace matches projects from solar integrators with project capital from solar investors, to finance commercial, non-profit, and municipal solar projects and aggregated portfolios.
SAN JOSE, California – April 9, 2014. Sustainable Capital Finance Inc., a solar financing firm, announced today the launch of the SCF Suite and a fund, raised specifically for projects submitted within the Suite. The fund, which contains $50 million of committed project capital through SCF’s investor network, is earmarked for projects submitted and approved through the Suite.
The proprietary web-based suite provides the solar industry with a new marketplace dedicated to financing commercial solar projects. The SCF integrator network is limited to organizations that meet its experience and financial strength standards.
Integrator’s projects and investors are linked to the same robust network, which provides integrators with expedited financing decisions and investors with multiple investment opportunities.
The SCF Suite allows integrators to streamline the project funding cycle by gathering all information necessary for SCF and its networked investors to analyze a project or portfolio. The Suite properly prices projects to meet economic benchmarks.
SCF’s investor network consists of hedge funds, private equity, utility companies and other institutional investors. Investors can acquire or invest in projects specific to their unique investment requirements and can form aggregated portfolios consisting of multiple commercial projects, meeting their desired portfolio size. Investors can dedicate less time to reviewing a single project, knowing that a SCF project analyst has previously evaluated the project, based on their investment criteria.
Shiraz Madan, CEO and President of SCF, was quoted as saying:
The SCF Suite is a first of its kind in the solar industry. Efficient and affordable financing has always been the biggest challenge for integrators within the commercial solar space. Our Suite provides an efficient means for integrators to submit and properly price projects in order to obtain financing. A stream-lined, standardized approach allows investors to specify project and portfolio requirements, saving them valuable time and ultimately providing them with economically viable projects. The commercial solar space has been vastly underserved; that’s now going to change.
The Suite is going through a roll-up phase, with access immediately available to the SCF integrator network. Sustainable Capital Finance will be providing online access to the Suite for its investor network in the very near future.
Solar integrators or investors interested in learning more about the SCF Suite can visit http://www.scf.com to learn more.
For media inquiries, please contact SCF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Sustainable Capital Finance:
SCF serves as a domestic renewable financing firm, providing financing vehicles and solar expertise in commercial solar. SCF is comprised of experts whom specialize in solar financing and solar development. Relationships with a multitude of investors have allowed SCF to structure solar projects into desirable investment vehicles, catering to the underserved commercial solar market. Sustainable Capital Finance and SCF Suite are service marks of Sustainable Capital Finance Inc.