SolarCity rolls out $1bn commercial solar rooftop fund

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Leading U.S. solar installations provider SolarCity has announced today a $1 billion funding program aimed at developing 300 MW of commercial solar atop rooftops across the U.S.

In a statement issued by the California-headquartered company, financing – which includes an investment from Credit Suisse Group AG – will be steered towards the development of carports for businesses and solar installations on schools and government agencies over the next two years.

Thus far, SolarCity – one of the leading installers of leased solar systems in the U.S. residential market – has more than 1,800 commercial solar systems under its belt, and according to data from GTM Research surpassed installations of rivals SunEdison, SunPower and Vivint Solar in both the residential and commercial sectors in 2014.

Released today, the new funding will be the catalyst for SolarCity’s rollout of its new ZS Peak mounting system, which is a snap-together racking kit that uses fewer parts than traditional systems and helps to facilitate faster installation speeds. The system was developed by Zep Solar, which SolarCity acquired in 2013 in a $158 million deal.

In an interview with pv magazine earlier this month, SolarCity VP of communications Jonathan Bass spoke about SolarCity’s commercial operations across the U.S., stating: "In the GTM Research data SolarCity was number one in the commercial market in 2014. Our residential activity gets more attention simply because there has been such a broad audience, but we’ve essentially been one of the two or three leading players in the commercial sector for some time.

"From Wal-Mart, Intel, eBay, Hewlett Packard and Walgreens, to more than 400 schools and universities across the country and all four branches of the US military, SolarCity has completed large distributed solar projects. The company is very much a leader – if not the leader – in commercial solar in the U.S."

Investment from Credit Suisse was finalized in February, with the fund beginning its first commercial projects in March, ahead of today’s announcement. The deal comes just a few weeks after Google invested $300 million into SolarCity’s $750 million residential PV fund.

In March, the company also launched its new micro-grid service, GridLogic, designed for municipalities, hospitals and rural customers currently either underserved by the grid or prone to weather-related blackouts.