SolarCity, the solar power startup whose chairman is the seemingly ever-present Elon Musk, has announced a new $750 million fund created to help fund residential solar projects, including defraying the upfront costs of solar panel installation at homes in 14 different states across the U.S. and in D.C. The new fund includes a contribution of $300 million, or just under half the total value, from Google, which marks its largest clean energy investment to date, and helps make this the biggest fund of its kind in existence.
Typically, installation costs associated with making an individual household able to harvest and use its own solar power are very high, meaning they take many years to recoup for the homeowners funding the installations. That means there’s a high barrier preventing many from taking advantage, especially if homeowners think they might have cause to move before they make their money back on the initial build.
The new $750 million fund is designed to help “thousands” of homeowners defray those setup costs, covering the cost of installation, solar panels, and equipment. In exchange, homeowners pay SolarCity for the energy produced by their panels, or a monthly rent fee for the panels in a lease situation, similar to the arrangement they’d have with a typical utility company, but with cleaner energy, and, in most cases, lower costs, too.
This is the second time Google and SolarCity have teamed up in this way; back in 2011, Google committed $280 million to a similar fund with the aim of getting thousands of homeowners on board with solar power. Clearly that had satisfactory results, since the search giant is going back for more.