The U.S. Solar Market Insight Conference is at the end of this month and looks likely to sell out, as it did last year. We're bringing you profiles of a few of the scores of solar industry executives speaking at the event in to be held in San Francisco October 29-30.
With the investment tax credit (ITC) diminishing, the U.S. solar market must innovate in financing structures. Today’s buzzwords range from REITs to MLPs, from crowdfunding to securitization. Arfin's session will examine and compare the possibilities for financing tomorrow’s PV projects.
We spoke to Arfin on Friday -- he's looking carefully at "the world beyond the ITC." He's also "looking at financial structures, incentives, and core economics and how we can weave these together to get to greater adoption and lower kilowatt-hour solar pricing."
It comes down to cost of capital. In Arfin's words, "There is a mismatch between the required returns by those who can invest and what the asset class provides. We want to broaden the base of people who can invest in solar projects."
"The ITC catalyzed an industry -- but it has its own issues." It can only attract a small pool of investors.
Arfin adds, "The idea is to expand the scope from just an oligarchy -- usually investment banks -- going down the scale to regional banks, pension funds, and eventually retail investors that would like this asset class, but right now, there's no easy way to invest."
David Arfin is a Special Advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy and CEO of First Energy Finance, LLC. Arfin invented SolarCity's SolarLease, the first-of-its-kind solar financing program that enabled over 25,000 homeowners, commercial and government customers to adopt solar power, save money, and not have to make a large upfront payment. In November 2009, SolarLease was named by Scientific America as the first of twenty world-changing ideas to build a cleaner, healthier and smarter world. Arfin also received the first-ever Innovation in PV Financing Award from the SEIA. Prior to SolarCity, David was co-founder and CEO of GlooLabs, (acquired by Cisco Systems), and was founder and CEO of CLE Group (acquired by Practising Law Institute).
Arfin serves on the Board of Directors of an energy efficiency software company (WattzOn) and a progressive payment platform for bringing clean energy to under-electrified communities in India (Simpa Networks).
The U.S. Solar Market Insight Conference presents data, analysis and expert forecasting on the state of the solar market in the U.S. This is the only event exclusively underpinned by the Solar Market Insight report series produced by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Here's the full speaker list.
Hope to see you next week in San Francisco.