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Energy Storage Financing Is Coming Into Its Own

The expansion of accessible financing played a vital role in the growth of solar. Now it’s storage’s turn.

Energy storage vendors face a challenge familiar to other purveyors of capital-intensive products: Most customers can't pay cash.

The key to reaching mainstream audiences, then, is to offer financing at a reasonable rate along with the product. Such programs have long been available for cars and houses. They have become mainstream for rooftop solar installations, thanks to services like Mosaic that offer zero-money-down financing online in a matter of minutes. Until very recently, storage didn't have a similar service to offer.

That's starting to change. This summer, Advanced Microgrid Solutions andStem raised big new money for storage project financing -- $200 million and $100 million, respectively. In September, both Tabuchi Electric and Sharp announced new funding specifically for financing solar-plus-storage systems. VC funding for no-money-down distributed storage financing is approaching $700 million for this year, more than triple the last major wave of funding, which occurred in 2014.

The new programs alone won't take storage mainstream, but if they demonstrate success, they could inspire additional monied institutions to get into the game, and that would have major consequences for the modernization of the grid.

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