Texas firm raises $900M for rooftop projects


A little-known Houston company that finances home solar has raised more than $900 million for a nationwide expansion with the eventual goal of "hundreds of millions of systems on rooftops," according to a company spokesman.

Summoning that level of cash is typically the terrain of larger, publicly traded rooftop-solar companies, such as Sunrun Inc., Vivint Solar Inc. and SolarCity Corp. (now part of Tesla Inc.). Even then, few have marshaled such a large sum so quickly.

Sunnova Energy Corp., founded in 2012, doesn't sell or install solar systems. It finances the projects through power-purchase agreements or leases, leaving other parts of the business to local partners, and guarantees that the systems work during the length of a 25-year contract.

That investors banked on the company is a signal of overall confidence in the solar industry, said Nicole Litvak, a solar analyst at GTM Research. "It is a good sign that Sunnova is still raising money," she said.

Sunnova currently has more than 40,000 customers, according to Jordan Fruge, Sunnova's chief marketing officer, who didn't offer details on where or how quickly the company plans to expand.

However, Litvak estimated that, based on the amount that Sunnova has raised, it could add 350 to 400 megawatts of solar power.

Like many rooftop-solar firms, Sunnova is also experimenting with supplementing its solar systems with batteries in order to add value and perhaps one day aggregate its solar fleet to interact with the grid.

Fruge said the company is trying out several energy-storage manufacturers, including Tesla, Enphase Energy, Mercedes-Benz and LG Chem Ltd., at installations in Hawaii.

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