The solar industry could use a large, successful IPO right now, on the heels of BrightSource’s withdrawal and Enphase’s good-but-not-great IPO result. (It’s still too early to tell for Enphase — and BrightSource is still soldiering on.)
Back in February, Reuters reported that San Mateo, Calif.-based solar installer and financier SolarCity was going to be filing its S-1 registration for IPO with the SEC.
The firm issued a press release on Monday saying:
SolarCity Corporation announced today that it plans to conduct a registered initial public offering of its common stock. The offering is expected to commence after the SEC completes the review process initiated by SolarCity’s confidential submission on Thursday April 26, 2012 of its draft registration statement.
The firm also mentioned that it would “not be providing additional comment.”
Reports have suggested that the firm could be valued at $1.5 billion. As Jeff St. John observed, a $1.5 billion market valuation might be hard to achieve in a market where top-line publicly traded solar companies like SunPower are seeing market valuations fall to far less than that.
But these days you can’t compare a downstream solar installer and financier with an upstream module player.
SolarCity has grown to more than 1,200 employees since its founding six years ago with a U.S. residential solar installation market share of approximately 13 percent, according to GTM Research. SolarCity did not invent, but has certainly pioneered the residential PPA, and has also won the confidence of banks and firms like Google to finance this new asset class. Additionally, SolarCity has moved into energy efficiency and has started to move into energy storage with presumably the same bank financing and lease model.
Tom Doyle of NRG: Solar Industry Rebounds in 2012