SolarCity announced its acquisition of startup Common Assets, which has a software platform that enables individuals and small companies to invest in solar panel projects. Other leading startups like Solar Mosaic have spearheaded this strategy of allowing individuals to invest in solar projects, a way to allow investors to actually bet on project development rather than the more accessible public market investments which are largely around panel makers.
From SolarCity’s end the company’s acquisitions show a company edging toward a fully integrated solar installer with in house marketing and now the beginnings of a financing platform. The one obvious missing piece is the panels themselves. On that front if we’re likely to see vertical integration, it’ll be from a panel maker like First Solar that decides to get into residential installation.
The Investment Tax Credit will expire in 2016 and while it’s hard to fully know what the impact will be, there could be an impact on SolarCity’s financing costs. By dipping its toes in the waters of solar investment, SolarCity can begin building platforms to easily access lower cost capital for its projects and at least create some financing competition so that it’s not entirely dependent on commercial banks in the future to provide it the capital for its extensive lease financing programs.