Turns out there are investors out there still willing to put some big money into solar startups and solar projects — just not into the solar manufacturers right now. On Wednesday morning solar sales and marketing startup Sungevity announced that it’s raised a whopping $125 million in funding to grow its business and its solar panel rooftop projects. That round includes the $40 million in equity that Sungevity was working on last year, and the rest was project financing for its customers’ solar projects.
Competition in the residential solar panel installer business — and the accompanying services industry — has intensified as the drop in solar panel prices has led to a solar panel installation boom in the U.S. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that there were 3.2 GW worth of solar panel capacity installed in 2012 in the U.S., up from the 1.89 GW installed in the U.S. in 2011.
Founded in 2007, Sungevity handles sales and marketing, system designs and financing deals, for residential solar panel systems, but the company farms out the installation work to contractors. Other companies like SolarCity — which recently went public — does all that and also installs the panels. Other competitors include SunRun, Clean Power Finance, Solar Universe, Brightergy and Solmentum.
Sungevity, led by the charismatic former Greenpeace-r Danny Kennedy, and CEO Andrew Birch, already grew a lot in 2012. Kennedy told the New York Times for a magazine article last year, that the company’s “revenues grew by a factor of eight in 2010 and doubled again in 2011, and employees grew to 260 from 3 since the company was founded.
The equity funding came from investment fund Brightpath Capital Partners, home improvement company Lowe’s, and investors Vision Ridge Partners, Craton Equity Partners and Eastern Sun Capital Partners. The project financing came from an unnamed bank and private equity firm Energy Capital Partners.