Aurora Solar, a software platform for solar sales and design that allows solar professionals to remotely determine various factors key to an installation: from how many solar panels will fit on a property, to the project’s energy production potential and battery needs, to the financial savings that switching to solar will bring to a client.
Using features such as automated photovoltaic system design, lidar-based shade analysis and AI-assisted 3-D modeling, a solar installer using the Aurora software can save money as well as the time normally required to travel to the location of the installation, capturing its sunlight exposure and processing the results, ahead of providing a customer with a quote.
It’s a popular proposition: Aurora claims that more than 40,000 projects are created on its platform each week. Investors are increasingly paying attention, too. Aurora has raised a total $320 million in the past two years after nearly five years of bootstrapping. The startup announced today the closure of a $250 million Series C round—a fivefold increase since its $50 million Series B round announced in November. It is a testament to the increasing attractiveness of the solar industry, where costs for photovoltaic panels have decreased by more than 80% in the past decade, according to some estimates.
And even if recent research indicates a reversal in the collapse of solar power price due to rising costs of its key raw material, polysilicon, Aurora’s cofounders say their technology can help push costs related to solar panel installation down further. “If you can be more accurate, and you know what system size fits how much you’re going to produce, what the savings are going to be, you can quote with much more confidence, and this is also going to reduce costs,” says Hopper, adding: “If we can make a dent in soft costs, that would be massive.”
The project was found by Sam Adeyemo and Chris Hopper in 2012 when they were M.B.A. students at Stanford University.
Aurora’s platform, which is powered by a variety of data sources, has been used so far to complete 5 million projects, Adeyemo tells Forbes—95% based in the U.S., with international demand picking up. With every new project, the platform acquires more data. “Increasingly, as our product develops, we’re also generating data that we can use to make the product better. That’s actually one of the most exciting aspects of what we’re doing,” he says.
The automation potential and its application to other services is also what excites backers like Nomad. “As a software-as-a-service company, Aurora continues to outperform in all traditional metrics and, more importantly, continues to grow at rates that we only see in early-stage companies. The opportunity is beyond their initial SaaS product but in becoming the operating system for the solar industry,” he says.
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