Thursday, June 16, 2011

Suntech Leasing

* Suntech says leases expand sales, make partners loyal
* Rivals of SunRun, SolarCity to be helped
SAN FRANCISCO, July 15 - (Reuters) - Chinese panel maker Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP.N) is getting into the solar lease business to compete with venture-backed start-ups such as SolarCity and SunRun, the vice president of project finance for its U.S. business said on Wednesday.
The program, already launched in California, will expand to up to six more states by the end of 2011, Scott Son said in an interview, adding the initiative will increase panel sales by helping the installers it partners with stay competitive.
"They are competing with SunRun and SolarCity and, if they don't have this option, they are at a competitive disadvantage," Son said. "We're just trying to level the playing field a little bit for Suntech partners and we think they significantly appreciate that, and they'll be loyal to us and buy panels from us, not just for the residential lease program, but for maybe their commercial business."
Son offered new details on financing plans a day after Suntech America President Steven Chan spoke at the Reuters Global Energy and Climate Summit. [ID:nN14251117])
Solar lease programs enable customers to pay a monthly fee for solar panels rather than a large up-front installation price. That fee is often offset by the customer's savings on electric utility bills. The programs have been popularized by San Francisco Bay Area start-ups SolarCity and SunRun, who buy panels from suppliers such as Suntech.
Nevertheless, Son said Suntech can beat the start-ups on pricing for solar leases.
"Whereas SolarCity and SunRun need to get VC kinds of returns on these investments, we're really using this vehicle to increase panel sales," Son said. "Our lease offering is competitively better than what SunRun and SolarCity are offering because our return requirement is lower."
Tax equity investors, however, will realize the same returns as they would partnering with the start-ups, but with less risk, Son added.
"Who's backing those leases? So that would be a primary concern of mine if I were a tax equity investor," Son said.
Suntech has big panel business and a big balance sheet.
"I feel pretty comfortable about partnering with them. I know they are not going anywhere," he said.
Returns for tax equity investors on residential solar projects are higher than for utility systems because investors prefer big, single deals, Son said. But tax equity investor returns could be 15 percent or higher in residential.
"There's a lot of capital that's chasing large utility scale deals," Son said. "There's not a lot of capital chasing residential deals."
The company is raising funds for the solar lease program from a couple of tax equity investors and hopes to close on that "in the next month or so," Son said.
Suntech is also working on a power purchase agreement program for commercial customers with a joint venture partner Son would not name.
The PPA program will be launched in the next couple of months and "would be 50 megawatts to 100 megawatts over the next one to two years," Son said.
The company is also developing financing programs for utility customers, who would be a significantly larger portion of its business than residential or commercial, Son said.
"We think the opportunity on the utility side is exponentially larger," Son added. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Andre Grenon)

Original Article:

Enphase IPO

Microinverter Maker Enphase Energy Plans for an IPO

By Ucilia Wang, Contributor
June 16, 2011   |   Post Your Comment
Enphase Energy has embarked on a road to the public market. The microinverter developer filed its intent to carry out an initial public offering on Wednesday, a move that reflected the company's need for capital to fend off a growing number of competitors.

Monday, June 6, 2011

SUN Betas the new Enphase 215 with 15 Year Warranty

Petaluma, Calif. – June 6, 2011 – Enphase Energy today launched its most efficient and powerful technology to date, the 215-Series Microinverter, with a 25-year limited warranty. The first product in the 215-Series, the standalone M215 Microinverter, is immediately available for purchase in North America from Enphase’s authorized distributors. In addition to its new microinverter products, Enphase also launched the Engage System™, a patent-pending mechanical and electrical interconnection system for streamlining solar installations.
“The all-inclusive third generation microinverter system delivers a set of innovations that – coupled with now over 750,000 units shipped – clearly establishes Enphase as a trusted brand in solar,” said Paul Nahi, CEO of Enphase Energy. “Our new offering delivers exactly what installers have been asking for – a proven, no-compromise microinverter system that sets the bar for efficiency, is simple to install and is guaranteed for the 20 to 25 year expected lifetime of the solar system.”

215-Series Microinverter

All 215-Series Microinverters incorporate Enphase’s third generation technology, which was specially developed to maximize the performance of 60-cell photovoltaic modules.
  • Record Efficiency: The M215 is the only microinverter to achieve a weighted power conversion efficiency of 96% (CEC).
  • Higher Power: At 215Wac, the new microinverter has an output that is 13 percent higher than previous generations, enabling compatibility with high-power 60-cell modules.
  • 25-Year Limited Warranty: The 215-Series 25-year limited warranty ensures that system owners will recognize the full value of their solar system over its expected 20 to 25 year lifetime. The Enlighten monitoring and analysis service is now included with the Envoy communications gateway to maximize system uptime.
  • Standalone and AC Module (ACM) Models: Available in North America with CSA certification and soon in Europe with VDE certification, the 215-Series Microinverter now addresses a large and growing global solar market. The 215-Series ACM model further simplifies installation by eliminating rack mounting, a separate system ground wire and DC cable management.

Engage System™

With the new 215-Series Microinverter comes the “plug and play” Engage System, which further simplifies the Enphase microinverter installation process.
  • Engage Cable: This new size-to-fit cable comes with built-in connectors that can support an entire 4kW system on a single branch. Providing installers ultimate flexibility and requiring no special equipment or training, the Engage Cable can be cut to length and also comes with additional cable termination and splice kits to further reduce balance of systems requirements.
  • Engage Port: This ACM microinverter port replaces the standard DC junction box on a PV module, enabling PV module manufacturers to integrate Enphase’s field-proven microinverter technology seamlessly into their product portfolio, while installers continue to benefit from Enphase’s system, including Engage, Envoy and Enlighten, and its top-rated customer support.
“We’re a strong believer in Enphase microinverters for their reliability, high performance and ease of installation,” said Michael Flood, director of operations and logistics for SolarUniverse, Inc. “As one of the first installers of the new M215, we like the cabling system as it’s lightweight, quick to install and reduces cable waste with its flexible cut-to-length design.”
The M215-Series Microinverter and Engage System are now shipping in North America, with the European model available for purchase in the second half of 2011. Enphase-enabled AC modules from leading module manufacturers are expected to ship in the first half of 2012.
Visit Enphase Energy at Intersolar, Munich: On June 8-10, 2011, the new M215 European model will be on display in booth #420, Hall C3 at the Intersolar 2011 Conference and Exposition.
About Enphase Energy
Enphase Energy provides solar microinverter systems for residential and commercial markets. The company offers a system that includes high-efficiency power conversion, communications and web-based monitoring and analysis. The systems increase energy production, improve system reliability, and simplify design, installation and management. Founded in 2006 and based in Northern California, the company is led by veterans from the solar and high tech industries and backed by industry leaders. For more information about Enphase, please visit

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Smart Planet on Solar Universe

SolarUniverse franchises the business of residential solar

By Heather Clancy | May 27, 2011, 3:26 AM PDT
There are franchise models for pretty much every kind of business you can think of, so why not residential solar installations? That’s the focus for a three-year-old organization calledSolarUniverse, which is hoping to spark up the deployment of solar technology projects typically between 10 kilowatts and 200 kilowatts in scope.
In that time, SolarUniverse has developed approximately 20 franchise locations in Arizona, California, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
When I spoke with him several weeks ago, SolarUniverse CEO Joe Bono said he hopes to double those numbers over time, targeting residential contractors and electricians seeking to build new skills. Bono’s rationale for franchising the business of residential and smaller commercial solar is that the local approvals and financing programs for these projects can be difficult for homeowners or small-business owners to navigate. “We continue to concentrate on the concept of the one-visit close,” Bono said.
SolarUniverse seeks to make the process easier by support installers with more structured lead generation, financing, sales and marketing, and product distribution resources. SolarUniverse acts at the distributor for projects, getting technology from manufacturers to the construction site. “Franchising is unique to the solar business, but it is a business model that has been around for a long time, so we hope it will make people more comfortable,” Bono said.
The timing appears fortuitous, if recent deals signed by the large home improvement retailers is an indication. Earlier this month, residential solar technology developer Sungevity signed Lowe’s, which is providing access to Sungevity’s iQuote fast-quoting system that helps people figure out the cost of installing a system. Home Depot teamed up with BP Solar some time ago to help make the residential solar process easier.
The fragmentation of the current industry, as well as consumer confusion over their technology options both make the timing right for a franchise like SolarUniverse, according to Bono. “Most consumers probably can’t rattle off a brand, which is where we come in,” he said.
Bono said many of the residential and smaller commercial deals that SolarUniverse franchisees are closing center on lease arrangements, typically ones that allow the homeowner to stretch the payments out over a 15-year timeframe.
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