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Financing Solar

The solar service model is an innovative way for companies to switch to solar power without making typically large up-front investments. The New York Times ran a story on how General Motors added solar power to one of its warehouses using this purchasing model.

WRI's Green Power Market Development Group has been instrumental in developing and fostering the solar service model. It typically works like this: 

  • A solar developer contracts with a customer for a solar installation on their site, often on a roof.
  • The customer contracts to buy solar electricity from solar installation and the developer at competitive rates.
  • The steady income stream makes it possible for the developer to secure project financing.

The solar service financing model has multiple benefits for both the developer and the customer. It gives customers a way to switch solar electricity at competitive rates without costly up-front investments, which strengthens the business case for renewable energy. Developers, of course, get more business. Many states have tax incentives for solar energy, and developers and customers typically negotiate sharing agreements for these benefits. Or they could sell carbon credits to help other companies meet regulatory requirements.

Companies Involved in Solar Service Models

  • Staples used the solar service model to switch two of its service centers to a 15 percent solar and is looking to do something similar with up to 140 of its stores.

  • GE Energy Financial Services installed solar roofs that provide half the electricity used by 23 San Diego schools.

  • Whole Foods Market made a deal with SunEdison for four existing solar installations and plans for more.
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