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January 29 2014


IPOs, Downstream and Solar Lease Funds Highlight 2013 in Solar Finance

The dollar amount of venture capital (VC) investments in the solar power sector dropped sharply in 2013, but public market financings, large-scale project funding and mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A) activity jumped sharply higher, indicative of mainstream investors’ increasing level of confidence and a shift in government policies and incentives in key markets around the world, according to Mercom Capital Group’s Solar Funding and M&A 2013 Fourth Quarter and Annual Report.

Solar finance shifts toward mainstream acceptance in 2013Investors’ growing interest in downstream solar (integrators, developers, leasing and installation companies) was apparent in the U.S. market. Downstream solar investments accounted for 45 percent of total VC solar funding last year, garnering a total of $262 million spread across 34 deals, up from $269 million over 26 deals in 2012.

Another 3.34 billion was invested in 22 U.S. solar residential and commercial lease funds, 69 percent more than was raised in 2012 when $269 million was raised via 26 deals. Vivint Solar, SolarCity and Sunrun each raised well over $600 million in capital, with Vivint raising some $740 million from an undisclosed group of investors. Nearly $1 billion was raised in 4Q alone, Mercom’s report authors noted.

2013 in solar energy finance

Breaking VC solar investments down further, $104 million was invested in concentrating solar power (CSP) companies across 17 deals. That compares with $146 million in 15 deals in 2012, a 25 percent decline in dollar-amount invested. A total $104 million in 17 deals was raised by PV companies as compared to $114 million in 17 deals in 2012, an 8.77 percent decline. Investment in thin-film companies dropped the most (77 percent), totaling $72 million last year as compared to $314 million in 2012.

Also highlighting activity in solar energy in 2013, more than $1 billion was raised in seven solar IPOs. In all, public market solar equity financings totaled $2.8 billion spread across 39 deals. That’s more than triple 2012′s total, which came in at $893 million across 23 deals, and $1 billion in 13 deals in 2011.

Solar debt financings totaled $6.2 billion in 38 deals as compared to $6.9 billion in 34 deals in 2012 and $20 billion in 41 deals in 2011. China Development Bank was the single largest provider of solar debt financing, extending credit to five Chinese solar companies, some of the largest of which have been fighting to avoid insolvency and bankruptcy.

9 gigawatts of large-scale solar in development

Credit: Mercom Capital Group
Funding for large-scale solar projects also surged higher, with Mercom tracking 9 gigawatts (GW) of new large-scale project announcements in various stages of development as of 4Q. Some $13.6 billion in 152 deals worth of large-scale solar projects were financed in 2013, a jump of over 56 percent from $8.7 billion in 84 deals in 2012. Activity in 4Q, at $6 billion in 46 deals, was the highest since 2010.

The U.S., far and away, continues to be the predominant market for solar VC funding. U.S. VCs accounted for $432 million of a total $600 million (72 percent) in VC solar funding in 2013 and 68 of 97 transactions (70 percent).

Credit: Mercom Capital Group

Credit: Mercom Capital Group

Mercom recorded 97 VC investments totaling some $600 million in the solar sector in 2013, around 40% less than 2012′s total of $992 million. The deal count dropped just 8 percent year over year, with an average size of $6.2 million, down from $9.6 million in 2012. Average deal size has been falling steadily since peaking in 2010 and 2011, according to Mercom.

Solar M&A activity was nearly 90% higher year over year in 2013, totaling $12.7 billion across 81 transactions, according to Mercom, up from $6.7 billion in 51 transactions in 2012. Deal activity jumped 60%.

On the downside, 28 solar companies field for insolvency or bankruptcy in 2012, with PV manufacturers being the most numerous at 18. Overall solar insolvency and bankruptcy filings were down 12 percent from a peak in 2012.

Image credit: Seth Anderson, courtesy flickr

The post IPOs, Downstream and Solar Lease Funds Highlight 2013 in Solar Finance appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

July 17 2013


Solar Gets Smarter: AlsoEnergy Focuses on Efficiency Through Solar Energy Measurement and Management

AlsoEnergy provides industrial scale management and measurement solution for renewable energy providers. Measuring solar

Over the past through years, I’ve had the opportunity to gauge growth in the solar industry in part through my annual attendance at the Intersolar North America conference in San Francisco. As with any new industry, PV solar isn’t immune to growing pains, but each year the solar industry emerges not only stronger, but smarter. One very important key factor to getting smarter is through the management and measurement of all aspects of a solar project, especially at the industrial scale.

Simply saying “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” borders on cliche, but the fundamental truth that lay underneath that pithy phrase is undeniable. With the technology improvements and innovations I’ve seen displayed on the exhibition floor at Intersolar the past few years there is every reason to believe that solar power will continue to become cheaper, more reliable and more abundant with each passing year.

Technological challenges remain for solar energy, particularly in storage and distribution, but with the growth in the size and sophistication of the industry the ability to adequately measure performance and holistically measure an entire energy portfolio are becoming key factors in the industry’s continued success and adoption.

Making solar more efficient

Innovation in providing industrial-scale measurement and management tools and processes is arguably more important than squeezing the last nano-watt of efficiency from a solar panel. For AlsoEnergy, building efficiency and sound management of large solar projects is their bread and butter. Co-founded in 2006 by Robert Schafer and Holden Cain, the two realized then the need for real-time software solutions that integrate renewable energy system performance with business and financial management.

“The biggest gains in improvement in efficiency now comes through better use of the (software and services) we provide,” says Holden. “Whether that’s helping manpower, understanding when to roll trucks or planning or just looking at the entire performance of a site.”

Bringing their experience in hardware and software development to bear on the challenge led to the release in 2009 of PowerTracka cloud-based, fully scalable and customizable commercial energy management and monitoring platform that can provide real-time information on multi-site system performance, current and predicted weather and dozens of other data sources impacting the end-to-end performance of an entire energy portfolio. This information can then be integrated with a variety of back-office functions for invoicing, cost and carbon savings verification and other analytical tools that give project managers, owners and investors real-time alerts and reports to enable reliable, efficient system-wide operation.

PowerRes – PowerOperations

Debuting at the Intersolar Conference that just wrapped last week is AlsoEnergy’s PowerRes, a portfolio management and monitoring package ideal for financiers and developers of residential solar lease programs. PowerRes was developed in partnership with Itron and uses the Itron Sentinel socket meter for cellular-based data acquisition.

PowerOperations is another offering highlighted at the Intersolar show. PowerOperations is an operations management workflow module that integrates with PowerTrack to increase operational efficiencies for maintaining peak performance of PV solar fields. Additionally, integrating PowerRes with PowerOperations enables operators to monitor thousands of residential sites in real-time.

Bankable solar

AlsoEnergy currently monitors more than 1500 sites throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. With the introduction of PowerRes the residential lease market will help continue to drive the company’s growth, which Schaefer says has doubled the past two years. It seems the solar industry is looking for what AlsoEnergy offers: 

“The whole thing is, the key, a system that says ‘this works as predicted’ – and that makes it bankable. It’s financial, it’s an investment. It’s risk, it’s yield and liquidity, just like every other investment in the world.”

What end-users need and want is cheap and reliable (and clean) energy. What investors and operators want is return on investment and the ability to operate as efficiently and reliably as possible.

The key to the new energy economy is not just generating clean energy, but managing the business of clean energy generation. As the industry shakes itself out, those that can best incorporate a holistic, integrated, comprehensive approach to managing and measuring their energy portfolios – in terms of both electrons and dollars – are the ones most poised for success. This holistic management approach is the business of AlsoEnergy and a vital key to the continued growth of the solar industry.


The post Solar Gets Smarter: AlsoEnergy Focuses on Efficiency Through Solar Energy Measurement and Management appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

August 30 2012


Electrical Generation Capacity from Renewable Sources Surges Under Obama

Electrical generating capacity and net output has grown significantly under the Obama administrationElectrical generation from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal has grown dramatically under the Obama administration says Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign.

Bossong cites two new government studies that show a near doubling of non-hydro renewable energy sources contributing to U.S. electrical generation since president Obama took office.

The latest issue of the Electric Power Monthly from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) analyzes data through June 2012. The report shows that from January 1 to June 30, 2012 non-hydro renewable energy sources (geothermal, biomass, solar, and wind) provided 5.76 percent of net electrical generation, an increase of 10.97 percent for the same period last year. Utility scale solar increased 97.2 percent from one year ago, wind generation grew 16.3 percent and geothermal by 0.2 percent. Biomass declined by 0.8 percent.

For the first half of 2012, wind contributed 3.84 percent of net electrical generation with biomass following at 1.4 percent, geothermal at 0.45 percent and finally solar with 0.09 percent – noting that this figure does not take into account the significant growth in small solar systems such as rooftop PV solar and other non-utility-scale solar projects. Another 7.86 percent of net generation came from conventional hydropower, which declined 14.3 percent from the same period in 2011.

During the last full year of the Bush administration, non-hydro renewable energy sources contributed 3.06 percent to net electrical generation, averaging 10,508 gigawatt-hours of output per month. Since then average monthly electrical generation has grown 78.70 percent from non-renewable sources with an output of 18,777 gigawatt-hours as of mid-2012. Electrical output from solar has grown by 285.19 percent in the period from 2008 to mid-2012, wind by 171.72 percent, and geothermal by 13.53 percent. Biomass has dropped by 0.56 percent.

The second government study come from the Energy Infrastructure Update from the Office of Energy Projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). According to the latest data 38 percent of all new electrical generating capacity for the first half of 2012 came from 229 renewable energy projects (“capacity” does not mean actual generation). Fifty new wind projects accounted for 2,367 Megawatts (MW)  of capacity, solar has 111 projects for 588 MW, 59 biomass projects contribute 271 MW, 5 geothermal projects for 87 MW, and finally 4 water power projects at 11MW.

Electrical generating capacity from new renewable sources were more than double than new capacity from coal, with only 2 new coal projects coming online,  contributing 1,608 MW of capacity. Renewable energy sources now contribute 14.76 percent of total installed generating capacity in the United States:

  • Hydro: 8.66%
  • Wind: 4.30%
  • Biomass: 1.23%
  • Geothermal: 0.31%
  • Solar: 0.26% (again, this figure accounts only for utility-scale projects, not the significant contribution from smaller PV solar systems)

Overall, natural gas leads with 41.83 percent and coal with 29.66 percent of total installed capacity. Nuclear power stands steady at 9.16 percent with the final 0.07 percent coming from waste heat.

“The numbers speak for themselves – notwithstanding politically-inspired criticism, the pro-renewable energy policies pioneered by the Obama Administration have proven their worth through dramatic growth rates during the past three and one-half years,” said Bossong. “The investments in sustainable energy made by the federal government as well as individual states and private funders have paid off handsomely underscoring the short-sightedness of proposals to slash or discontinue such support.”


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