One of the gating factors for getting more homeowners to make the switch to solar energy has been that solar, as a business, is a hard one to get right, with many a company failing when they’ve been unable to strike the right balance between the technology working as it should, provisioning services in a cost-effective way, providing good customer service and handling their own overhead. Today, a startup that believes it has squared some of these problems away is announcing a big funding round as it gears up for growth.
Enpal — a solar startup out of Berlin, Germany that uses AI for provisioning and installing services, and then a subscription-style model for homeowners to pay for it (you might even call it a SaaS model: solar as a service) — has raised €150 million ($174 million) from SoftBank Vision Fund 2.
The funding closes out its Series C at €250 million ($290 million), including €100 million that Enpal raised earlier this year from investors that included HV Capital and SolarCity co-founder Peter Rive. The investment values Enpal at €950 million ($1.1 billion) post-money, the company has confirmed.
To date, Enpal has raised around $360 million in equity, with another $406 million in debt.
The company has some 10,000 customers in Germany, and the plan will be to continue growing in its home market, as well as make its first efforts to expand to new ones. Ultimately Enpal’s goal, CEO Mario Kohle said, is to make using renewable energy a realistic option for everyone and everything.
“Our plan is to go beyond Germany because the climate crisis goes beyond our boarders,” Kohle said in an interview. “We also think that this small thing that we invented could also expand into e-mobility and community-based energy distribution.”
Founded in 2017 with Viktor Wingert and Jochen Ziervogel, Kohle said the original idea was to build a new startup that could be more proactive about the climate crisis. His previous company, a sales-lead-generation startup that he sold to PE firm General Atlantic, happened to have a number of customers that came from the solar market. Kohle liked what they were trying to do, but he saw them fail time and time again. He started to do some research into why, and found that it wasn’t the solar technology per se, but all of the hurdles in selling and provisioning it efficiently. The business model just didn’t add up for most of them.
So this is where Enpal — which is a portmanteau of “energy” and “pal,” Kohle said — put all of its focus.
It first built an AI-based algorithm that lets users take pictures of …….