Online solar marketplace receives VC investment

As the solar industry enters a more democratized state in 2014, online marketplace Milk the Sun has received unspecified financial backing from two venture capitalists eager to help assist the portal’s growth.

Start-up funding company Gründerfonds Münsterland, and strategic energy investor Howaldt Energies, have injected capital into Milk the Sun, which is currently the world’s largest open marketplace for buying and selling PV systems, and for arranging project partnership introductions.

"We see great potential in up-and-coming company Milk the Sun," enthused co-investor Kai Howaldt, a former Senior Partner at Roland Berger. "In a short space of time, the platform has expanded its business from the core markets of Germany and Italy to cover the whole of Europe, developing into an internationally positioned solar trading platform."

Having entered the solar industry in 2009, Milk the Sun CEO Felix Krause quickly realized the number of intermediaries that solar projects had to go through. In teaming up with three partners, Krause developed Milk the Sun to offer a free, open online platform as a way for developers, investors and roof and land owners to connect, promising a quicker and more efficient planning process.

Following the early success of the company’s initial project management portal, Milk the Sun has since become an online trading platform too, offering the sale and purchase of solar installations – either new or existing.

"We are delighted to be joined by our new partners – financially strong entities with valuable industry experience," said Krause. "We already offer a wide range of solar projects worldwide; now it is time for our portal to become even more international.

"Our portal works in a very simple and transparent way," the CEO explained. "It is free to post projects and find the right investor. Users are free to view commercial and technical details of solar installations on the website, and do not have to register before being able to browse the virtual marketplace. Registration is only necessary for those wishing to trade or obtain project contact details. In this case, they must prove themselves as potential investors."

The Milk the Sun platform also provides legal consultation and insurance services, as well as technical and commercial operation advice, making a commission based on a calculation of a system’s output once it has been successfully brought onstream via the platform.

"With support from the Milk the Sun management team and co-investor Howaldt Energies, we now want to successfully and majorly expand into the international growth market," said Marcel Vonnahme, investment manager at eCAPITAL AG, which manages Gründerfonds Münsterland. "By offering attractive rates of return, we also hope to establish photovoltaics as an asset class."