Disruptive Business Models

A blog on using the power of Disruptive Business Models to build successful businesses...and other stuff. by Joe Agliozzo

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Inverters - the next wave to "green the grid"

More details soon, but learning a lot about inverters and how electricity moves around the power grid.  Reactive power is what allows the energy to flow - creates magnetic field, etc.  It is something you don't see or know it's there (or sometimes that you are paying for it) but it makes it all possible.  There are a lot of efficiency gains to be made both on the grid and within end-user facilities.  More soon on this subject.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sale of Largest Solar Distributor in North America - Closed

This is the deal we worked on for 18 months - now going full bore on solar finance!

Acquisition Gives ITOCHU Largest Solar Distribution Network in the U.S.
April 13, 2009

New York: April 13, 2009 -- ITOCHU Corporation, jointly with ITOCHU International Inc. (collectively, ITOCHU), has agreed to acquire the business of SolarNet LLC, a solar energy solutions provider that includes DC Power Systems, the largest privately-held wholesale distributor of solar energy systems in the US, and Stellar Energy Solutions. ITOCHU has been actively implementing a global solar energy strategy since 2006 and has made a number of strategic investments, including the acquisition of California-based wholesale distributor and systems integrator Solar Depot in 2007. With the acquisition of SolarNet, the combined market share of Solar Depot and DC Power will give ITOCHU collectively the largest solar distribution network in the US. SolarNet will be operated as a majority-owned subsidiary of ITOCHU, beginning immediately. While the current management and employees will be retained, ITOCHU personnel will be added to strengthen the capability of SolarNet.

ITOCHU also supplies manufacturing equipment to solar module manufacturers globally and is involved in the systems integration, financing and development of solar energy projects in various countries. Observing the rapid growth in the solar industry, ITOCHU recently centralized all its solar energy related business into a new business department in order to provide a stronger and more streamlined approach to executing its solar energy business.

“ITOCHU is pleased to add the substantial business experience and capabilities of DC Power and Stellar Energy Solutions to our rapidly growing solar energy business activities in the US market and around the world,” said Harutoshi Okita, Senior Vice President, ITOCHU International Inc. “This acquisition expands our presence in the US distribution market and extends our capabilities with regard to the development of large-scale solar systems.”

ITOCHU expects this development to result in an improved product offering and level of service for solar dealers and customers across the country, making world-class solar solutions available at the most competitive prices. The acquisition also positions ITOCHU as a leading integrator of commercial-scale solar power systems, with a project pipeline of over 80MW across the US.

“SolarNet’s partnership with ITOCHU will give our companies the resources to execute our aggressive business plan and continue to provide outstanding customer service in a rapidly growing business. We are excited to have a partner with such a long-term vision and global reach,” said Joseph Marino, President of SolarNet. Mr. Marino will continue with SolarNet after the acquisition as a member of the Board and as Founder.

ITOCHU will actively expand SolarNet’s business throughout the US market by building on its existing solar energy business activity and utilizing its global business network to add value to SolarNet. Through these efforts, ITOCHU expects its growing solar operations to accelerate the adoption of solar power in the US.

Minority owners of SolarNet and Board Members include Chris Tyson and Mark Sampson, who will focus on providing financing services to the company and solar industry (www.energyfinancecompany.com and www.newedgesolar.com).

ITOCHU Corporation is a diverse global trading company headquartered in Tokyo with annual revenues of more than $28.5 billion in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008. Founded more than 150 years ago, ITOCHU consistently posts global trading transactions of over $100 billion every year. With more than 150 offices in more than 70 countries, ITOCHU Corporation operates over 700 domestic and overseas subsidiaries and affiliates involved in a wide array of industries, including technology, energy, media,
telecommunications, aerospace, electronic machinery, textiles, food products, finance, real estate,
insurance and logistics services.
For more information on ITOCHU Corporation, please contact
https://www.support.itochu.co.jp/main/ssl/coy/inquiry_other/inq_other_e.html or visit the ITOCHU
websites at www.itochu.co.jp/main/index_e.html and www.itochu.com.

About SolarNet
SolarNet™ facilitates solar energy solutions by fostering collaborations between solar contractors, engineers, architects, investors and energy users. By utilizing Solar Service Agreements (SSA), innovative financial contracts that pair solar investors with energy users, SolarNet makes large-scale solar solutions accessible to more corporate and government clients. For more information, please contact David Michalek at david@dcpower-systems.com or visit the SolarNet website at www.solarnet.us.

About DC Power Systems
DC Power Systems is the largest privately-held wholesale distributor of solar energy systems in the US. Established in 2000 in Healdsburg, CA, the company has grown rapidly and is a full-service provider to over 1,000 dealers throughout California, the US and Latin America. DC Power serves residential and commercial markets through four warehouses coast-to-coast. DC Power offers in-house design, engineering and installation support to its SolarNet™ dealers. The company's world-class technical expertise encompasses a broad range of technologies allowing adoption of the most site-appropriate products. DC Power also offers small-scale wind turbine systems.

More information on DC Power Systems: www.dcpower-systems.com

About Stellar Energy Systems
Established in 2004, Stellar Energy is a leading solar system integrator with comprehensive services including project financing, engineering and installation management. Recently, Stellar, SolarNet and Sharp collaborated to design and construct the largest solar installation at a winery and one of the largest in California – a combined 2.8MW owned by Foster’s Wine Estates.

More information on Stellar Energy Solutions: www.stellarenergy.com

About Solar Depot
Solar Depot is a wholesale distributor and systems integrator of solar electric and solar thermal systems. For over 30 years, Solar Depot has been designing and supplying solar energy systems for residential, commercial and industrial applications, making Solar Depot among the largest and most experienced solar integrators in the United States. Solar Depot serves its customers through three full-service facilities in California, located in Petaluma (corporate headuarters), Sacramento and Corona. For more information, please contact Kevin Shimokobe at kevin-s@solardepot.com or visit Solar Depot’s website at www.solardepot.com.

Media Contact at ITOCHU International Inc:

Michael Solomon: Michael.Solomon@itochu.com, (212) 818-8083 or (914) 960-2368

Source: ITOCHU International Inc.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

PG&E 500MW plan - 1/2 PG&E Land 1/2 Private

Many reports of announcement - but the really interesting news is that 1/2 (or 250MW) will be contracted out to private developers. No details on whether this will be "build to own" or PPA style deals (with PG&E as offtaker).

Question - can PG&E take the CSI subsidy as well? Or is that a violation of the CPUC rules that setup the CSI?

Solar in a Box - the Ultimate Residential Solution?

Installation costs for residential solar typically represent more than half the cost of the installed array, and the installation process cries out for innovation. Several companies have created "solar in a box" products. Typically, they come in kit form and include panels with dedicated inverters, racking/attachment system and wiring for interconnection to the grid.

Here's a typical example.

This is a good start, but there are some tradeoffs with this type of system:

1. the low profile means that you will not get optimal tilt for maximum efficiency;
2. the low profile may also create roofing issues - both for air circulation and also roof replacment
3. these systems still require multiple roof penetrations, which may cause maintenance issues in the future
4. the micro inverter systems provide for easy assembly and redundancy (partial panel shading is less of an issue with microinverters, as is individual failure) but also add cost.

I haven't yet seen any installation cost figures with these systems, but it is interesting to think of this type of product being used in a DIY application. Say for sale at Home Depot, the homeowner can install the system and call on a licensed electrician simply for the interconnect. That may be one way to reduce installation costs down to more like $1-2 per watt, giving the homeowner and extremely fast payback when including subsidies and the new federal solar grant.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Grants instead of Tax Credits - Boom?

The new stimulus bill apparently will provide for government grants to replace the current tax credit scheme. On the surface this should solve a lot of problems, since as everyone knows there is a lack of investors with tax credit appetites. Couple of interesting wrinkles though (as I understand it):

1. must place in service in 2009 or 2010 - so long term projects are out of luck (like utility scale solar)
2. must be a tax paying entity to use (so non-profits, schools, etc. would still seem to need a third party ownership structure to facilitate)

Will be interesting to see what the regs that actually implement the legislation look like and how long this will take. Could affect project/construction finance if the grant check is going to take a long time to process, for example.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Solar Data - Opensolar.org

Great mashup of CSI data and Google Maps - you can see the locations, components of costs of projects that have received CSI rebates - http://opensolar.org/.

Suggestions -

1. Instead of pulldowns provide search functions for installers.
2. Allow searching/sorting by geo, size, $$, type of panel, date, etc.

Great start though and very useful..

Friday, January 30, 2009

MMA New $200M fund - $10/watt?

News on MMA's new fund - http://greenwombat.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/ - stated $200M fund, 20.6MW = approx. $10/watt.. This seems high in relation to the prices we are seeing and what most lenders will fund. Possible developer note/other depreciation or tax credit multiplier?

Using Twitter to Update my Blog

Can't seem to get it together to post more often, so just added Twitter Badge. Will try that!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

AB 811 - New California Law Authorizes Cities to Make Low Interest Solar Loans

California has passed a new law AB 811, that authorizes cities in California to make low interest loans secured by a lien on the property. The liens transfer to any subsequent owner if the property is transferred and the property owner makes payments much as they would property tax payments.

This mechanism should allow cities to easily raise bond money to finance the programs, given that the loans are secured by liens and, like tax liens, will presumably be senior to all other liens.

The low interest and presumably easy availability of these loans should be a serious spur to PV sales. Low interest loans plus the CSI will bring many installations close to grid parity on a monthly basis.

I also think this has to be seriously troubling to PPA and lease providers.. wonder what their "spin" will be?