Google Investing More in Solar Tech



Rooftop solar panels installed at Googleplex.

Rooftop solar panels installed at Googleplex. Image by Google Power. Copyright: CC BY 2.0

Search engine giant Google is expanding further into the solar industry by funding rooftop solar companies. Financing company Clean Power Finance will be receiving $75 million from Google to allow solar installers to receive cheap financing. Ultimately the goal of this funding is to allow homeowners to install solar panels with low upfront cost. When the system begins generating electricity the end user pays Clean Power Finance who in turn pays Google. In the end everyone wins including Google, Clean Power Finance, solar installation contractors, and homeowners who want solar panel installations.

This round of solar funding from Google joins a previous $280 million infusion to solar company SolarCity in June. Yesterday SolarCity announced that the DOE had informed them they would not be receiving a loan guarantee due to additional paperwork resulting from the Solyndra bankruptcy and ensuing investigation. The loan was intended to fund Project SolarStrong which would have installed up to 160,000 rooftop solar panels onto military housing.

Finance company Clean Power Finance is a recent startup that aims to connect solar installation contractors with financing companies and has over 1,400 clients. In addition to Google it has received funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Claremont Creek Ventures. Clean Power Finance CEO Nat Kreamer says investors typically see returns around the high single to low double digit range but wouldn’t comment on specifics.

Companies like Clean Power Finance are a growing trend and are one of the major factors involved with 2011s record breaking photovoltaics growth. Industry analysts expect the solar leasing model to be responsible for even larger growth in 2012 as the model expands and additional start ups are formed.

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