Commercial solar can be a lucrative sector for solar companies, but access to financing can be a significant challenge. Obtaining the necessary capital can be particularly difficult for certain classes of customers and projects—like nonprofits and small projects below a certain kW size.This barrier is one of the reasons that the commercial solar sector has been slow to take off; despite significantly larger projects, the installed capacity of commercial (C&I) solar is currently far less than residential PV in the U.S.
Aurora Solar’s new partnership with Sustainable Capital Finance aims to tackle this challenge and make commercial solar financing more accessible in the industry. Through this partnership, Aurora customers can view live PPA rates and apply for commercial solar PPA financing for projects over 100kW located in the U.S.—without leaving their Aurora solar sales and design platform.
There are several key benefits this offers to solar contractors:
1. Increased transparency about financing rates
One key benefit of Aurora and SCF’s Financing Integration is increased access to information on financing rates for solar contractors, through our Quick Quote functionality. Quick Quote allows you to view real, actionable solar PPA financing rates that SCF is offering for your project.
As you explore different financing options for your commercial project using Aurora’s financial analysis tools, you can add “PPA Finance by Sustainable Capital Finance” and a PPA rate will be instantly generated for your project.
This allows you to set clear expectations for your customers about what rates they may be able to access. This can be particularly helpful for customers who are concerned about the availability of financing options for them.
Additionally, because you’re presenting rates that you know are available to qualifying customers, there is a lower likelihood that the actual rate is significantly different than the assumptions you presented—thus reducing the likelihood that the sale falls through.
2. Improved access to capital—particularly for projects and customers that have a harder time accessing financing
Another key advantage of our financing integration with SCF is increased access to capital. Rather than searching for financing partners that serve projects like yours, you have one at your fingertips.
Further, solar PPA financing from SCF is notable in that it is accessible to customers and projects that have traditionally had a harder time accessing capital: nonprofits and small commercial projects.
As Dan Holloway, VP Origination & Acquisitions at SCF explains, “most companies that offer PPA financing do not offer financing for projects smaller than 1 MW, and almost none that will go below 500 kW. Sustainable Capital (SCF) believes that this is a vast and very under-supported part of the overall solar PV market. We offer PPA financing for projects as small as 100 kW and happily support nonprofit organizations.”
At Aurora, our mission is to create a future of solar energy for all; increasing the accessibility of financing through this partnership directly supports that goal.
3. Access capital faster to close more sales
An additional significant benefit resulting from this financing integration is the ability to reduce the time it takes to finance your commercial solar project. Not only can you see live commercial solar PPA rates with Quick Quote, as an Aurora customer you can directly apply for solar PPA financing without interrupting your solar design and sales workflow.
Instead of spending time rounding up the documentation and production data needed for a financing application, you can automatically transfer all of your design information from Aurora to SCF.
This Aurora information also helps allow SCF to efficiently process financing applications because they can be confident in the energy production data and other solar design information you are submitting. Aurora’s remote shade analysis has been validated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as statistically equivalent to onsite shade measurements and our shade reports are accepted as bankable by financing and rebate authorities across the U.S.—including NYSERDA, CT Green Bank, and the Energy Trust of Oregon.
As a result of software tools like this, SCF is able to price and underwrite projects in hours instead of days, allowing you to respond faster to your leads. Faster turnaround time has significant sales benefits—allowing you to respond to inquiries while the lead is hot or apply to RFPs more quickly and accurately.
Whether you’re new to commercial solar or have hundreds of commercial projects under your belt, it is our hope that this new partnership, and the resulting commercial solar financing options, give you additional resources to close more sales.
We’re particularly excited that this partnership makes solar PPA financing accessible to smaller projects and customers like nonprofits that have historically had a harder time getting financing.
At a macro level, this new partnership aims to make commercial solar PPA financing more accessible and more transparent. (That’s something solar finance expert David Arfin highlighted as a key opportunity when we interviewed him in 2017!) This is an important step to advancing the growth of the commercial solar market.
Though commercial solar has grown more slowly than the residential or utility-scale sectors, it’s a market with great potential. In fact, NREL has estimated that commercial solar on offices, hotels, and warehouses has the potential to reach 104 GW in the U.S. if current barriers are addressed! We consider this partnership one way of chipping away at those barriers to help commercial solar grow.