4 Important Lessons Solar Companies Can Take From The Mortgage Industry

Posted by Haresh Patel    August 22, 2014

One of the benefits of being in a relatively young and evolving industry is that we can learn from more established industries and apply those lessons to our own processes.

The mortgage industry is a great place to look for guidance. Here are four key takeaways that solar companies can put in practice to increase automation and streamline their efforts:

Disciplined processes. The most successful mortgage companies have extremely defined origination and underwriting processes in place. Each person in the process has a specific role and they only do the tasks assigned to that role. There’s no ambiguity or uncertainty around what each person’s tasks are to move the application towards closure.

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The 1 Thing That Can Help Investors and Developers Close More Deals

Posted by Haresh Patel    August 18, 2014


A few weeks ago, at the Intersolar Conference in San Francisco, we had the privilege to moderate a panel on how solar investors and developers can work better together. The panel was moderated by our own Tim Buchner and included Todd Michaels of SunEdison, Kate Sherwood of Solar City, Pablo Otin of Gestamp Solar, and Erik Stuebe of Ecoplexus Inc.

We covered a wide range of topics, but everyone seemed to agree on one thing that could benefit both investors and developers. Communication. Specifically, how can developers and investors improve their communication to close more deals in less time?

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3 Best Practices for Deal Screening and Diligence

Posted by Haresh Patel    August 8, 2014

Lessons learned from the pharmaceutical industry

How much do you think the average pharma company spends to bring a drug to market? A few hundred million? A billion?  

Try several billion. A 2012 study from the InnoThink Center for Research in Biomedical Innovation found that pharma companies spent between $3.6 billion and $12 billion on each drug that they had approved between 1997 and 2011.

You may be wondering why these numbers are so big. The answer - because for every drug that is approved, pharma companies have dozens that never make it out of R&D.

You may also be wondering what any of this has to do with solar. It turns out, a lot. When it comes to deal screening and diligence, there are some very valuable lessons that we can take from the pharmaceutical industry

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Can PACE Transform the Commercial Solar Segment From an Ugly Duckling Into a Swan?

Posted by Haresh Patel    July 28, 2014

Do you have big plans to leverage the growing commercial & industrial (C&I) market? If so, then an innovative new financing structure called PACE should be part of your strategy. In the states where it’s available, PACE financing is eliminating some of the barriers that have limited solar in the C&I space.

PACE stands for Property Asset Clean Energy. There are different variations of PACE lending, but they all basically work the same way. PACE funds lend money to building owners to makeenergy efficient investments. That loan is then paid back through tax assessments over a long period of time.

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Why Is Your Cost of Origination So High?

Posted by Haresh Patel    July 22, 2014

Did you know that a typical origination team only spends about 20 percent of its time finding and closing deals? Does that surprise you? If you tallied up the way your origination team spends their time, would the results be different?

Here at Mercatus, we’ve worked with dozens of solar investors, utilities and independent power producers around the world and have helped assess over 4000 projects that add up to 20GW  worth of solar projects. That experience has given us insight into how companies operate and where they have opportunities for improvement.

Last year, we surveyed originators at some of our clients. We wanted to learn about the challenges they face, what tools could make them more effective, and how we could help them be more successful. One of the most interesting pieces of information from that survey was how originators spend their time.

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Commercial Solar Poised for Takeoff

Posted by Haresh Patel    July 17, 2014

Led by retailers and spurred by government action, more and more businesses are making renewables part of their energy strategy. Not surprisingly, solar plays a big part. Commercial use of solar has soared over the past year, driven by price reductions and tax incentives.

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The Fight for Low-Cost Capital Part I: Yieldcos

Posted by Haresh Patel    July 2, 2014

348cd8cAfter decades of research, development, and evolution, solar is finally knocking on the door to become a mainstream energy source. Prices have come down to rival those of traditional energy sources. Financing mechanisms have made solar readily accessible for households and businesses across the country.

There’s only one obstacle keeping solar from busting through: widespread access to low cost capital.

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Solar Power World Magazine Panel: Operations Challenges in the DG Era

Posted by Haresh Patel    June 23, 2014

We were thrilled to recently participate in a panel on operations and maintenance challenges for an upcoming issue of Solar Power World Magazine. The piece is being written by Glenna Wiseman, who posed some insightful questions about distributed gen eration and how it's posing new operational challenges for solar companies.

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10 Ways Solar Entrepreneurs Fool Themselves

Posted by Tim Buchner    May 1, 2014

Blissfully ignorant. That’s the phrase that came to mind as I read an insightful article that was recently posted on Alleywatch.com. Titled “10 Ways Entrepreneurs Deceive Themselves,” it could have been a verbal history of my own entrepreneurial experiences. Seeing as how the entire solar industry is essentially a scaling start-up and all of us are entrepreneurs joining “the gold rush," I felt it would be worthwhile to share the points from the article. I’ve also added in some commentary from my own experience.

As entrepreneurs, we’re all blissfully ignorant to a degree. We tell ourselves that we will be successful when the facts suggest otherwise. We create reasons for our inevitable success so that we can continue marching forward. We embellish to our friends, family, coworkers, and employees so they won’t lose faith.

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Why You May Get Left Behind in the Solar Investing Boom

Posted by Haresh Patel    April 12, 2014

By all accounts, the solar gold rush is on. In March release, Citi’s alternative investment team proclaimed that the “Age of Renewables” was beginning and that price cuts in solar and wind would lead to a flood of consumer demand and increased capacity.

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