SolarCity continues installation race ahead of US tax equity changes



The largest US solar installer, SolarCity deployed 280MW of PV installations in 2013, with plans to top 500MW in 2014 as it continues to race towards installing as much PV as possible before US tax equity incentive schemes are significantly reduced in 2017.

The company reported that it had its 100,000th customer in March 2014 and guided residential booking to surpass 100MW in the first quarter of 2014, supporting its guidance of a back-half year loaded installation environment that should support deployments of between 475MW to 525MW for the full-year.

SolarCity reiterated that operating Lease and Solar Energy Systems Incentives revenue in the fourth quarter of 2013 was US$22.4 million, up 79% from US$12.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, with a gross margin of 48%. Total revenue for the quarter was US$47.3 million.

Profitability remains an issue with the company reporting a loss from operations US$55.3 million, compared to US$32.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Total operating expenses increased 78% in the fourth quarter to US$65.2 million, compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.

SolarCity’s strategy is to push the expansion of its operations as fast as possible, knowing that it has just short of two years to attract customers before cuts to tax incentives for solar installations could prove a major obstacle to further adoption via its lease business model.

The company guided first quarter 2014 operating expenses would increase further to as high as US$75 million as it expands its sales efforts.

The company has increased its contracted payments under its lease and PPA arrangements to over US$2 billion (10-20 years), an increase of over 80% from US$1.1 billion in 2012.

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