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Making solar installations easier gives one company a $250 million windfall

$320 million in over two years. That’s how much money Aurora Solar has raised for its service that helps solar installers lower costs and make the installation of panels more efficient for homeowners.

The company’s co-founders say that improving the efficiency of solar installations is the next hurdle that the industry will need to overcome to boost adoption and ensure that costs come down enough to ensure that anyone who wants to access renewable energy can.

“It’s not uncommon for the acquisition cost for a customer to be thousands of dollars,” Aurora Solar chief executive Chris Hopper told TechCrunch. Hopper estimated hat half the price tag of any installation is really about designing and optimizing the installation to fit a home.

“If the quote is for $30K, what actually goes on your roof might be $15K, the rest is overhead, design, acquisition cost, yada yada yada,” Hopper said. “That’s the next frontier to make solar cost-competitive, and that’s where Aurora comes in. Every time we shave a few dollars off the price of an installation, it opens it up for new consumers.”

Co-founded by Hopper and chief revenue officer Sam Adeyemo, Aurora Solar raised only $1 million over the first five years of its corporate existence, but really accelerated its fundraising in recent years to meet what the company sees as the potential for growing demand.

The company has nabbed money from investors like Coatue, a massive hedge fund sponsor with some $25 billion in assets under management — along with Silicon Valley investors like ICONIQ Capital, Energize Ventures, and the LA-based real estate-focused investment fund, Fifth Wall.

Solar energy is the fastest growing source of energy over the past decade, and while much of that growth has come from utility scale solar projects, a lot of it is coming from residential installations as well.

As more utilities look to distributed energy generation projects to meet their renewable energy goals, the number of installations of rooftop solar on homes could increase, which would drive demand for products like Aurora Solar’s, the company thinks.

The demand is coming — President Joe Biden wants the U.S. to use only renewable sources of power by 2035 and in order to meet that goal, the amount of solar installations will need to dramatically increase.

Indeed, solar could supply as much as 45% of the power needs of the U.S. according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

So what does Aurora do to make its software so valuable? The company’s software currently integrates information from different data sources — like satellite imagery, real estate records, and other sources to design accurate installations and manage the installation process. For instance, the company said that installers can use the software to determine how many panels will fit on a property, how much energy the installation can actually produce, and determine how many batteries would be needed for backup power.

“Residential solar is set to grow significantly over the next decade,” said Jaimin Rangwalla, Senior Managing Director at Coatue, in a statement. “Aurora has the potential to unlock an inflection in this growth through lowering soft costs, such as installation and permitting.”

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