Sunnova eyes energy services investments as solar enters ‘new phase’ of maturation

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Sunnova said customers now expected more from solar and storage investments than just a financial investment. Image: Sunnova/Sunstreet.

US residential solar installer Sunnova said it was investing in its end-to-end solar services to cater for customers demanding more from their rooftop installations.

Speaking as the installer disclosed its Q2 2021 financial results, Sunnova chief executive William J. Berger said that solar had entered a “new phase of maturation and growth” where a “new value proposition had emerged”. No longer was residential PV solely pitched as a financial product, it is now “actively focused on reliability and resiliency”, he said.

“Customers are now expecting a long-term energy service offering that is fast and intelligent. To meet this need, we have dedicated resources to building out our end-to-end software platform, which contains capabilities such as quoting tools for dealers, predictive service analytics for customers, and grid services software for aggregation,” Berger added.

Investments in additional services, both for end users and other companies involved in the solar supply chain, have become common in recent months, while grid services have emerged as an area of particular interest for residential solar installers in the US as specific states open up grid services markets. Sunrun has actively pitched this in previous quarters, while earlier this week microinverter supplier Enphase Energy said customers of its battery storage solution in certain states would be able to earn up to US$1,500 per year by allowing grid utilities to access their capacity.

It was also confirmed earlier this week that Sunnova had partnered with inverter provider SolarEdge and grid operator National Grid to participate in a grid stability project in New England, wherein customers will help provide voltage support.

Sunnova reported a 55% jump in year-on-year revenue in Q2 2021, with turnover reaching US$66.6 million. Customer numbers meanwhile leapt to 162,600 as of 30 June 2021, aided by 12,700 new customers through organic means and the introduction of 33,500 customers following its acquisition of rival installer SunStreet, which completed earlier this year.

But despite the influx of new customers and a jump in revenue, the installer’s quarterly losses soared to US$66.3 million on higher net interest costs, an US$18.8 million hit owing to unrealised losses on interest rate swaps and higher general and administrative expenses.

Sunnova did, however, reaffirm its guidance for the year, stating it still expected to add between 55,000 and 58,000 new customers organically in 2021, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) expected to fall between US$80 – 85 million this year.

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