As the solar energy industry expands, banks and investors increasingly require higher quality data and tools to quantify the risks associated with solar projects and integrating more solar assets into their portfolios. Without data standards, transactions for solar projects take longer than necessary and can require higher than normal interest rates. Solar projects can even be valued below their true worth due to the perceived risks around system performance and future profitability. To address this problem, our SunShot Initiative has launched Orange ButtonSM, a new program that will simplify and standardize solar data. One of those awardees is kWh Analytics, which has been working with SunShot since 2013 to bring greater transparency to solar project finance and data management.
As a part of Orange Button, kWh Analytics is creating a new data communication tool that will ease the solar industry’s transition to a unified solar dataset, helping to make solar transactions more efficient while also improving market transparency and certainty. Their tool will instantly translate original data formats into data standards. This technology is going to be developed from lessons learned from the development of the company’s HelioStats platform, which is capable of synthesizing thousands of data points on project payment and performance.
SunShot has supported kWh Analytics since the company’s beginning, selecting it to receive funding in rounds 8, 9, and 10 of the Incubator program. KWh Analytics’ approach to solar is simple: use big data analytics to help investors understand the perceived technical and financial risks associated with solar. When banks and investors know more about solar assets and customers, this builds investor confidence and can consequently enable more capital to enter the market, while shortening processing times and reducing transaction costs.
Solar companies can make payment and system performance information available to data analytics companies, allowing this data to be anonymized and aggregated. The industry can then analyze the data and set benchmarks for how solar projects should typically perform and be valued. This level of transparency gives investors the information they need to feel more confident about how potential or current solar assets will perform, incentivizing further solar investment and reductions in the cost of capital.
Through its SunShot Incubator projects, kWh Analytics created HelioStats, a platform that synthesizes information from nearly 70,000 solar projects and collects information on the technical and financial performance of these projects. HelioStats serves as a central warehouse for portfolio data, identifies risks in real-time, and benchmarks industry trends and standards. Customers use these capabilities to inform their financial decisions, quantify production risks, and improve overall portfolio management. Recently, kWh Analytics has signed key customers that are now using HelioStats, including Google, PNC Bank, Sunlight Financial, and the state of Hawaii.
In addition, kWh Analytics leads another data-centric SunShot project that aims to expand solar access to consumers with lower credit scores by proving that FICO scores aren’t the only indicator of a customer’s ability to repay a solar loan or lease.
Learn more about the SunShot Initiative’s Technology to Market program and its efforts to bring innovative, early-stage technologies to the market.