CleanCapital reports Tahoe is its largest C&I solar portfolio refinancing to date

CleanCapital

CleanCapital closed on a refinancing of its largest solar portfolio: Tahoe. The 46.9 megawatt portfolio, one of the largest independent C&I solar portfolios in the U.S., was acquired from ATN International, Inc. subsidiary Ahana Renewables. Lenders for the $85.7 million financing that matures in 2026 are Santander Bank, N.A. and CIT Bank, N.A.

CleanCapital has grown rapidly over the last year, acquiring more than 84 MW of distributed operating solar since April 2018. The Tahoe portfolio was acquired by CleanCapital last November as part of its partnership with BlackRock’s Renewable Power Group. The underwriting of the debt by Santander Bank and CIT signals confidence in CleanCapital’s track record of quality execution in C&I solar.

“As we continue to build up our assets under management and optimize the value of those portfolios, partnering with the top banks in the market gives us best-in-class execution,” said CleanCapital Chief Investment Officer Matt Eastwick. “We’re pleased to work with CIT and Santander Bank on this refinancing, which enhances investor returns on our largest and most diverse solar portfolio.”

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“Sustainability financing is a core competency at Santander Bank and we are thrilled to support CleanCapital and BlackRock in their clean energy endeavors” said Nuno Andrade, Managing Director and Head of Structured Finance for North America at Santander Bank, N.A.’s Corporate & Investment Banking Group. “We are proud to have structured the financing of this complex C&I solar portfolio to support our valued and strong partners.”

“CIT is proud to support the continued growth of CleanCapital in renewable energy with the successful refinancing of this major solar portfolio,” said Mike Lorusso, managing director and group head for CIT’s Power and Energy business.
About CleanCapital

CleanCapital is an industry-leading clean energy investment platform. Its mission is to accelerate investment in renewable energy to address the urgent threat of climate change. CleanCapital’s leading edge technology platform facilitates the evaluation and acquisition of clean energy assets with speed and certainty. Since 2015, CleanCapital has leveraged investments from BlackRock, CarVal Investors, John Hancock, and other partners to acquire more than $300 million of distributed operating solar assets.

— Solar Builder magazine

Inside Nearmap’s breakthrough combination of 3D aerial imagery and artificial intelligence

Boston-3D

Boston, as seen by Nearmap aerial images.

Aerial imagery business Nearmap launched its new 3-D product that could revolutionize the way industries such as urban planning, architecture, construction, government and councils view and shape cities across the U.S. and Australia.

Here’s the deal: Nearmap 3-D allows customers to stream and export 3-D imagery on-demand at a massive scale, through its proprietary MapBrowser web application. Additionally, because the imagery is updated frequently, businesses can work with the most current information to make better-informed decisions.

In addition, Nearmap has developed new AI technology that is turning millions of aerial images, captured over a decade, multiple times a year, into valuable datasets. These datasets can be used to more accurately and efficiently measure change and quantify attributes, such as solar panels, pools, roofs or construction sites. Organizations ranging from small businesses to large companies and cities will be able to take advantage of AI-driven location intelligence.

The AI technology will allow organizations to identify locations with specific attributes and in so doing, reduce site visits, generate more leads, and eliminate the time involved to inspect properties manually.

“Nearmap 3-D is the result of a significant investment in R&D, but also listening to our customers and what they need to transform the way they work. Accessing 3-D imagery up to now has typically been an arduous, time-consuming and expensive process – but not anymore,” said Tony Agresta, Executive Vice President of Product at Nearmap. “This represents the single largest, most frequently updated footprint of 3-D accessible through a browser. The ability to measure in 3-D space, size up an area and then export Nearmap 3-D for use in other platforms will transform the aerial imagery market.

Instant Access to 3-D through MapBrowser

Nearmap is making 3-D imagery accessible to anyone in the same way it has with 2-D. While Nearmap has offered 3-D imagery since 2017, this new iteration of the technology allows users to instantly stream 3-D content at massive scale via its MapBrowser web application.

The lightweight platform offers customers a fully immersive 3-D experience, allowing them to visualize cities in 3-D from any direction, measure distances, and immediately export a custom area in a variety of 3-D formats at unprecedented speed – the download time is a matter of minutes for most requirements and only a few hours for very large footprints.

“It’s like switching from DVDs to streaming services,” said Dr. Tom Celinski, Executive Vice President of Technology & Engineering at Nearmap. “Our camera technologies have been capturing 3-D since 2017, but now our secret sauce is bringing it onto MapBrowser, allowing users to easily and instantly stream this content with many export options. Now users can visualize, measure, define a custom area, export our 3-D and use it in their workflows with other commercial platforms and tools. We’re helping 3-D experts and novices alike access reality like never before, and this is an important next step in our Reality as a Service journey.”

Nearmap 3D

San Francisco, as seen by Nearmap

And like the best streaming services, Nearmap 3-D comes with an extensive library, more than 400,000 km2 covered. It is updated once a year and covers major urban areas in Australia and the U.S.

“We live in a 3-D world, we think in 3-D, and so we have to ensure that our products give the closest representation of reality as possible,” Celinski said. “That means businesses that rely on visualizing 3-D content, like architects, for example, can now access up-to-date 3-D models instantly and export them in just minutes. In a tender process, for example, that can be the difference between winning a new project or not. The opportunities for Nearmap 3-D are endless.”

Petabytes of images, and a living data set

Nearmap AI technology is the result of more than two years’ worth of research and development, and a team of close to 20 data scientists and machine learning engineers. The team, led by Dr. Michael Bewley, is using the petabytes of imagery that the business has captured over the past 10 years and turning it into a living dataset to accurately identify changes or quantify attributes from the Nearmap library of aerial imagery.

Nearmap has built highly accurate machine learning models and deployed them on a massive scale. The automated process, and the constantly learning engine, means that the AI technology can be applied to any new geography. Nearmap also applies the models to new surveys, generating fresh results with current imagery.

To date, Nearmap has performed analysis on over 1 million square kilometers of imagery across Australia and the U.S. (which constitutes about 80 million properties) and is performing more analysis every day. Nearmap is now inviting customers to take part in a beta program to experiment with various use cases.

“We don’t prescribe how our technologies or content can be used by our customers,” said Dr. Michael Bewley, Director of AI Systems at Nearmap. “Our solar customers could use the AI technology to easily identify where and when solar panels have been installed for maintenance jobs, to prospect new clients in an area where solar energy’s popularity is on the rise; or a government entity that previously had the arduous task of tracking swimming pools or construction in their jurisdictions will be able to do it automatically.”

“But this is the tip of the iceberg – we’re just getting started. This technology is going to profoundly change the way that cities are built,” Bewley said. “Our plans include delivering AI results in many forms, much the same way we deliver our imagery today.”

Both technologies will be presented at Nearmap’s flagship event, Navig8, in Perth on June 6, Melbourne on June 11 and Sydney on June 13.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar installations expected to increase 25 percent in 2019 after record first quarter

solar q1 2019

In the first three months of the year, the U.S. installed 2.7 GW of solar photovoltaics, making it the most solar ever installed in the first quarter of a year. With the strong first quarter, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables forecasts 25% growth in 2019 compared to 2018, and it expects more than 13 GWdc of installations this year.

This data comes from the new U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), whom together announced in May that the U.S. hit the 2 million solar installation milestone during the first quarter of 2019.

“The first quarter data and projections for the rest of the year are promising for the solar industry,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “However, if we are to make the kind of progress we need to make the 2020s The Solar Decade, we will need to make substantial policy and market advances.”

U.S. PV capacity installed in the first quarter, Q1 2010 – Q1 2019 (MWdc)

solar market q1 2019

Source: Wood Mackenzie / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, Q2 2019.

The largest share of installations during the record-breaking quarter came from the utility PV segment, with 1.6 gigawatts coming on-line, making up 61 percent of PV capacity installed. The report notes that with 4.7 gigawatts of large scale projects under construction, 2019 is on track to be a strong year for utility PV, with 46 percent growth over 2018 expected.

U.S. Utility PV Pipeline, Q2 2019

solar market forecast 2019

Source: Wood Mackenzie / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, Q2 2019

 

“Voluntary procurement of utility PV based on its economic competitiveness continues to be the primary driver of projects announced in 2019,” said Wood Mackenzie Senior Solar Analyst Colin Smith. “While many states, utilities and cities have announced or proposed 50 or 100 percent renewable energy or zero-carbon standards, the announcements have not yet resulted in an uptick in RPS-driven procurement,” added Smith.

Residential and non-residential results

The residential market experienced annual growth as well. According to the report, the U.S. saw 603 megawatts of residential solar installations during the first quarter, up 6 percent annually.

“Despite steady installations in Q1 2019, the residential market is still highly reliant on legacy state markets, such as California and the Northeast, which have seen only modest to flat growth over the past several quarters,” said Wood Mackenzie Solar Analyst Austin Perea. “As these major state markets continue to grow past early-adopter consumers, higher costs of customer acquisition will challenge the industry to innovate product offerings and diversify geographically.”

In fact, the report notes that 29 percent of residential capacity in Q1 2019 came from markets outside the top 10 solar states by capacity, the highest share for emerging markets in industry history.

The non-residential segment, which represents commercial, industrial and public sector distributed solar, saw 438 megawatts of PV installed on the quarter, which was down on both a quarterly and annual basis. According to the report, this is largely a result of state-level policy reforms in historically strong markets for the segment including California, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The authors point to new community solar mandates in New York, Maryland, Illinois and New Jersey that will help reinvigorate the segment beginning in 2020.

Total installed U.S. PV capacity will more than double over the next five years, with annual installations reaching 16.4 GWdc in 2021 prior to the expiration of the residential federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and a drop in the commercial tax credit to 10% for projects not yet under construction.

— Solar Builder magazine

How have utilities changed the value of solar? Aurora Solar runs 45 million scenarios to find out

Aurora_remote assessment

Net energy metering (NEM) policies have played a crucial role in making residential solar installations a good investment for homeowners in the United States. However, as installed solar capacity has increased, many utility companies have introduced changes to their NEM programs that reduce the value of distributed solar.

Aurora used its proprietary solar financial analysis tools to conduct a large parametric study that analyzed over 45 million scenarios to determine how these new programs impact solar customers’ savings across the United States. The study analyzes the financial impacts of specific billing mechanisms, as well as the cumulative impacts of different combinations of these mechanisms as implemented by utilities in different states. The policies evaluated slightly diminish the financial value of installed solar but also promote larger system designs in certain circumstances.

Head here to download it and read the results for yourself.

Random notes from the analysis

  • Policies that reduce the compensated value of excess energy impacts customers differently than policies related to monthly fees.
  • Annual credit expiration policies can make or break the financial benefit for the customers depending on the time of year when credits are expired.
  • Hourly export rules scale with system size – high usage households are hit more than small usage.
  • Monthly minimum fees are more likely to impact customers with lower energy consumption and encourage smaller systems compared to ideal designed under standard NEM policy.
  • Installers need to pay attention to the month in which credits expire, as that can have a big impact on financial return.
  • New York’s VDER program promotes an optimal system size of around 105% energy offset while the prior target was around 98%. In Utah, new policy promotes slightly smaller systems for households that have a smaller energy consumption and slightly larger system for households with higher consumption. Over in Hawaii, under a zero-export policy, a sweet sport for design is around 60 percent energy offset for households with low energy consumption and 70 percent for larger households.

The overall takeaway

Knowledgeable solar installers play a huge part in designing systems that make financial sense for customers under the various billing scenarios. Some customers may need to over-size a system to see the best financial return, while others may need a smaller system. Some may need to curtail their usage and couple their system with energy efficiency measures to realize better value.

— Solar Builder magazine

POWERHOME Solar enters its eighth state: Missouri

missouri

POWERHOME Solar is expanding into Missouri, which marks the eighth state in its footprint. The new office will be in St. Charles, a western suburb of St. Louis, and POWERHOME is now on the hunt for dozens of new employees in the areas of sales, installation and administrative functions.

POWERHOME has been on an aggressive path of expansion since 2017, as it has added six of its markets since that time. The company designs, permits, sells, finances, installs, maintains and monitors solar energy systems and panels for residential and commercial applications. The company works with homeowners and business owners to create custom rooftop or ground-mounted solar systems that generate renewable energy, lower electric bills and reduce carbon footprints.

“We see Missouri as a source of untapped potential for those interested in solar energy,” said Jayson Waller, CEO POWERHOME Solar. “We want to increase renewable energy use in Missouri while helping customers reduce their energy costs and impact on the environment. Installing panels costs roughly the same amount as a utility bill, but once the financing term ends, the solar energy is completely free.”

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) notes that residential customers in Missouri pay an average of 9.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for power. The average electricity consumption in the U.S. for a residential utility customer is 867 kWh per month. Missouri ranks 28th in the U.S. in megawatts of solar installed, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, and POWERHOME aims on raising the state’s rank.

POWERHOME uses American-made panels from a manufacturer in Washington that come with a 30-year warranty, and each of the panels generate about 36 kWh per month. A basic home installation will reduce grid energy consumption by an average of 60-80 percent, saving Missouri customers an average of nearly $60 per month.

— Solar Builder magazine