Solar sales and customer-acquisition platform company Sungevity just raised $650 million in project finance and equity funding from private equity giant Apollo Global Management. Adjusting for inflation, that's a heck of a lot of money. Andrew Birch, CEO of Sungevity, told GTM that $600 million was for project finance and $50 million was part of an equity financing by existing investors including GE Ventures, as well as new investors including Apollo Investment Corporation.
Apollo Global Management is a global alternative investment manager that describes itself as "contrarian, value-oriented investors in private equity, credit and real estate, with significant distressed expertise." Apollo’s assets under management totaled $160 billion as of the end of 2014.
In a market where other leading residential solar financiers have pulled back a bit on growth, Sungevity, the largest privately held U.S. solar company, just landed an enormous war chest that will spur approximately 400 megawatts' worth of solar deployments over three years.
"Holy cannoli," exclaimed a noted, usually more articulate GTM Research analyst.
Sungevity has now raised more than $850 million in VC and project financing from investors including BrightPath Capital Partners, home improvement store Lowe's, Vision Ridge Partners, Oaklandimpact, Greener Capital, Firelake Capital, Craton Equity Partners and Eastern Sun Capital Partners. European utility E.ON was an investor in Sungevity's $70 million funding round last year, along with Jetstream Ventures and GE Ventures.
The company claims it can quickly deliver a firm price quote for residential solar rooftop systems without having to pay a visit to the roof site. It aims to own the customer experience from sale though installation and operations and maintenance.
Earlier this year, Sungevity moved into the small commercial market and partnered with commercial-scale solar financier Sol Systems. Sungevity will focus on what it calls the "underserved small business sector," with systems sized between 20 kilowatts and 300 kilowatts.
The CEO spoke of being a "disrupter platform in a world of vertically integrated solar companies." He said that he "continues to believe that the platform wins."
In an earlier interview, Dave Dunlap, Sungevity's chief development officer, stressed that Sungevity has a different model. "It's not vertical integration," said Dunlap, adding, "It's a platform model" focused on strategic growth through partnerships. Viridian, a Crius Energy company, recently joined other Sungevity partners such as Lowe's, Sierra Club, UC Berkeley and E.ON.