Business

Startup that finances solar energy to consumers receives BRL 500 million

For Solfácil, it is not enough to defend sustainability to make Brazilians opt for solar energy: it is necessary to make the installment of a photovoltaic panel cost the same as the monthly electricity bill. The fintech of solar energy financing announced this Wednesday (11) that it has received an ambitious check to expand this proposal.

The series C investment of US$ 100 million (R$ 500 million at the time of signing the investment) was led by QED, a venture capital fund specializing in fintechs that invested in businesses such as Loft and Nubank. The round was accompanied by the investment division of the Japanese telecommunications conglomerate SoftBank (Contabilizei, Mercado Bitcoin) and the managers Valor Capital Group (Olist, Pipefy) and VEF (Creditas, Guiabolso).

Solfácil had already raised a series A round of US$4 million and a series B round of US$30 million. This was yet another equity round, exchanging equity for equity. Solfácil is currently raising a debt round with a financial institution, the value of which is yet to be defined.

“The funds arrive for us to become the main financing agent in the solar energy sector. So we will generate even more income, through energy savings in the long term. A photovoltaic system lasts more than 20 years”, said founder Fábio Carrara in an interview with From Zero to Topentrepreneurship brand InfoMoney.

Carrara founded the business in 2018, after having a company that designed projects and installed photovoltaic panels in commercial and residential establishments. “I started in this solar energy sector when only 300 customers had the technology, back in 2015. We have about 1 million consumer units generating their own solar energy today”, he said, citing an average growth of 150% per year in the last five years. .

Even so, less than 1% of the Brazilian population uses this type of energy, according to data from last year from the Brazilian Photovoltaic Solar Energy Association (Absolar). Penetration reaches 25% in countries like Australia, according to Carrara. “We have a huge market here. Traditional energy is very expensive and we have a lot of sun, so the cost of our photovoltaic system is competitive. In other countries, you need more slabs to generate the same amount of energy, so the funding needs to be done over several years. I believe we will be the largest access company for solar energy in the largest market in the world for this sector.”

Solfácil operates through a B2B2C model. Local panel design and installation agents visit consumers, show solar kits from various suppliers through a business marketplace and make quotes for the chosen kit with installation, already with financing option. Solfácil has 8 thousand partner agents.

Consumers can be farmers, individuals and small companies – Solfácil claims to serve 90% of the market targeting such audiences. The investment in a photovoltaic panel is between BRL 20,000 and BRL 30,000 for individuals and between BRL 75,000 and BRL 100,000 for legal entities. The electricity bill usually ranges from R$300 to R$400 for the individuals that Solfácil serves, while the PJs usually spend between R$2,000 and R$3,000 per month.

“Our individual persona is a family with four people of class C. This family lives in a hot region, uses air conditioning and needs our financing to have its own photovoltaic panel”, described Carrara.

Consumers usually pay for the panel over a period of five to six years, with a monthly installment similar to the amount that would be paid on the traditional electric bill. Solfácil is monetized through interest charged on its financing and through a commission charged from suppliers for each sale made on its marketplace. The money to provide financing comes from credit rights investment funds (FIDCs), with a public offering restricted to qualified investors (CVM Instruction 476).

Fintech has served more than 40,000 consumers since 2018, accumulating a portfolio of more than BRL 1.2 billion in financing. Thus, it is already close to the big banks in the financing niche for solar energy. A study carried out by the solar energy market consultancy Grenner shows that 54% of sales of photovoltaic panels were made through bank financing. Solfácil was the third largest lender in the first half of 2021, behind BV and Santander. “We seek to take the lead in 2023,” said Carrara.

The first objective with the new investment is precisely to provide more financing: Solfácil will buy more subordinated shares of its FIDCs and invest in more partner agents and marketing initiatives.

Another objective is to improve the marketplace. “We are going to expand our network of suppliers and speed up our deliveries,” says Carrara. Finally, Solfácil will launch in the second half of this year the first version of its sensors for monitoring solar panels, using the internet of things (IoT). “The sensor sends alerts about disconnection and lower-than-expected production. We want them to allow remote maintenance of photovoltaic panels, saving travel costs and allowing for a better after-sales service.”

Solfácil grew its revenue by eight times in the comparison between 2020 and 2021. The plan is to grow in revenue by five times in the comparison between this year and the previous year, reaching 100 thousand customers. The capital is already in hand. Now, the strategy needs to work, and the forecast is for a lot of sun.

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