For decades, the world has been powered by fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal). However, in the past five years, solar energy has emerged as an attractive alternative. The cost of solar panels has decreased thanks to improvements in technology and the marketplace became more receptive to purchasing them.
Today’s businesses, organizations, and homes can be powered by solar energy, which is economical and eco-friendly. The industry has expanded beyond simply supplying electricity and now includes a wide range of products and services that make operating simpler and more convenient.
Here are the top 10 companies using solar energy in Westport, MA, along with an overview of each.
1. General Electric (GE)
GE is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electricity products, including wind turbines and solar panels among others. The company also has a large retail store in Westport that sells a variety of energy-related products, such as air filters, thermostats, and lighting fixtures. In 2016, GE purchased Sky Energy, a developer of commercial solar products, for a whopping $25 billion. The company aims to continue growing its energy division.
Samsung is a leading solar energy company that sells a variety of solar-related products, including solar cells, water heaters, and appliances. The company also installs and services solar energy systems. Samsung has also become one of the top five distributors of solar energy systems in the U.S. In 2016, it opened the largest retail store in the country, the Samsung Experience Center, which features a rooftop solar power plant that generates enough electricity for 2,500 households. The store offers customers the ability to purchase and install solar energy systems. The company’s main headquarters is in Seoul, South Korea.
3. First Solar
First Solar is an American company that has developed, manufactured, and distributed photovoltaic solar cells since 2010. The company also owns and operates solar power plants across the U.S. First Solar has actually become one of the biggest employers in the town of Westport, with around 3,400 people working there. First Solar is a publicly traded company and is part of the Sustainability Index Group. Its stock price has increased from $13 per share in 2010 to $25 per share in 2016. In 2016, the company’s market value was $21.9 billion.
Sunrun is one of the largest solar energy companies in North America. The company offers a full range of products and services, including providing electricity directly to consumers, acquiring and installing solar power systems on homes and businesses, and manufacturing air products, such as indoor and outdoor air purifiers. In 2016, the company received $1.9 billion in funding from investors, including Goldman Sachs, Mitsui, and General Electric. In 2017, Sunrun opened a new headquarters building in Mountain View, California, which features a 20,000-square foot data center that supports its operations. The data center is powered by more than 30,000 solar panels on the roof.
SolarCity is another American company that provides residential and commercial solar energy products and services. The company was co-founded by Elon Musk and was recently valued at around $20 billion. The company buys and installs solar panels on homes and businesses across the country. In 2016, it was reported that 2,400 people were employed in the company’s headquarters in San Mateo, California. In 2017, SolarCity opened a new headquarters building in Newark, California, with a grand opening ceremony attended by elected officials, business leaders, and residents.
6. Vivint Solar
Vivint Solar is a subsidiary of Vivint, the smart home company. The company provides a full range of residential solar energy products and services, including designing and installing solar power systems, offering financing and monitoring products, and selling and installing window tinting for cars. The company raised $600 million in 2016 in a Series C round of funding led by DBL Partners. The firm also got a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2016 to further promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and advanced vehicles.
Sungevity is an American company that provides a full range of solar power products and services, including purchasing and installing solar power systems on homes and businesses, providing education and financing options, and selling and warranting solar-related products, such as roofing tiles and solar lighting fixtures. The company was founded by Stephen Hawking and Jimmy Page in 2011 and has offices in the UK, Germany, and Hong Kong. Sungevity received $4.45 billion in funding from investors, such as Google, Acumen, and NextEra, in a Series B round in 2014. In January 2017, the company’s shares closed at $22.13 per share. In May 2017, the company opened a new 27,000-square foot office space in San Jose, California. It’s one of the biggest leases of its kind in the city.
SunPower is a subsidiary of Sungevity, the American company that provides residential and commercial solar energy products and services. SunPower actually designs and manufactures solar cells and solar panels as well as provides system integration and installation. The company is valued at around $6 billion.
9. NRG Energy
NRG Energy is the second-largest independent power producer in the U.S., with around 12,000 MW of clean power generation, primarily from its fleet of wind turbines. In 2015, the company was valued at $16 billion. However, in early 2017, the company experienced financial headwinds and reduced its share price by around 40%. The price fluctuation was caused by the company’s exposure to the energy market as a whole, which is highly dependent on fossil fuel prices. NRG has also been the subject of a number of articles in recent months due to its aggressive cost-cutting measures and attempts to streamline its operations. The company has begun to exit unprofitable markets and has sold off some of its wind farms to American Electric Power, for example.
10. Algonquin Power
Algonquin Power is a utility company that provides retail electricity and natural gas to homes and businesses in the Northeast, primarily in New York and New Jersey. The company also owns and operates power plants that generate around 45 MW of electricity. In June 2015, Algonquin was valued at $3.45 billion. In August 2016, the company’s shares dropped to $1.95 per share after it was revealed that the price of a share of electricity would increase by 21% and 18% in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Price hikes were attributed to rising natural gas costs. However, in early 2017, Algonquin began to reduce its energy supply contracts with the expectation of earning back its investment. The company is now seeking to sell off a portion of its energy portfolio in an attempt to raise capital for further expansion.
These 10 companies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to businesses that use solar energy in Westport, MA. The list only includes established companies that have registered and are publically traded on stock exchanges. Many more smaller and privately held companies operate in the industry as well, which are not registered at all or are privately held. To learn more, visit the EPA’s Solar Powered Businesses website.