SolarCity: Q2 losses double as installations and revenue soar

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The second quarter of 2014 saw SolarCity add 30,000 new customers, install 107 MW of new rooftop solar PV systems, increase revenue by 62% to $61.3 million, book orders of 218 MW and… double its losses to $47.7 million.

The San Mateo, U.S.-based solar leasing giants wasted little time in offering themselves a pat on the back after publishing the second quarter financial performance, stressing that the company is "well on the way" to achieving its goals, and unduly concerned by "smaller than expected" losses that masked the bigger picture.

Compared to Q2 2013, when just 8,559 customers were added, the 30,000 thousand new additions to the SolarCity family this past quarter were reason to celebrate, placing the company firmly on course to hit its targeted one million customers by 2018.

SolarCity has so far installed 141,034 solar panels across the U.S. via its solar leasing model, which strips away the initial hefty downpayment and spreads the cost to the consumer over a 20-year term. This business model is built to last, meaning that a raft of installations, as witnessed in Q2, can trigger short-term losses as the company stumps up the upfront costs. Over the next three years, SolarCity expects to lose in the region of $1 billion as it pours its revenue into new installations – a figure offset by the $3.3 billion of contracted payments locked in over the next 20 years.

The installation of 107 MW last quarter was within the company’s forecast of 105-110 MW, and chief executive Lyndon Rive confirmed on an earnings conference call yesterday that SolarCity is on track to reach 1 GW capacity by the end of 2016.

Following the announcement, SolarCity shares rose 5.3% to $79.63 during extended trading Thursday (up from $8.00 at launch in December 2012), as the company’s COO Tanguy Serra confirmed that the soon-to-be-completed acquisition of solar panel maker Silevo had helped drive down installation costs. "Our installation costs have dropped from $3.16 per watt at the time of IPO to $2.29 per watt in Q2 2014," Serra said.

Once the acquisition is completed, SolarCity hopes to lower installation costs even further, to just $1.90 cents per watt by 2017