Aurora Solar raises $50 million to streamline solar set up with predictive algorithms

Aurora Solar raises $50 million to streamline solar installation with predictive algorithms

San Francisco-based Aurora Solar, which uses a combination of lidar sensor data, computational design, and computer vision to optimize solar panel installation, today announced a $ 50 million increase. The company will use the funds to expedite the hiring of all teams and drive the development of new features and services for solar installers and solar sales consultants.

Despite the recent setbacks, solar remains a ray of hope in the emerging renewable energy sector. In the US, the solar market is projected to exceed $ 22.9 billion by 2025, driven by falling material costs and growing interest in offsite and rooftop installations. In addition, China – the world’s leading solar panel installer and largest producer of photovoltaics – 1.84% of all electricity generated in the country two years ago came from solar energy.

Above: Modeling of solar panel installations with the software from Aurora Solar.

Photo credit: Aurora Solar

Stanford University alumni Samuel Adeyemo and Christopher Hopper teamed up to found Aurora in 2013 after commissioning a solar project for a school in East Africa. While the panels themselves only took weeks to install, the planning – research, financial calculations, and system design – took six months.

Therefore, the couple developed SmartRoof, with which solar installers can create 3D CAD models of construction sites and not only predict how many panels will fit on the property, but also how much electricity they will produce and what energy savings are possible. It’s a bit like Google’s Project Sunroof, a geographic search engine that anyone can use to discover the potential for solar energy collection in their home, albeit more sophisticated.

SmartRoof was launched in 2015 after two years of development and validation testing with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the US Department of Energy, Hopper said. The process begins with modeling using Aurora CAD software. Designers trace roof outlines over satellite imagery augmented with lidar data and use built-in edge detection tools to ensure they meet specifications. From there, they can simulate obstacles (such as trees) exposed to sunlight or the sun paths of the panels and use this data to extrapolate electricity consumption at different times of the year.

In September, Aurora launched a suite of tools that can be used to size battery backup systems and make recommendations based on homeowners’ needs. The software dynamically takes into account how much electricity is generated by a solar system, how much load needs to be secured and how many batteries and inverters are selected. According to Justin Durack, VP of Aurora, the product team spent months researching and designing the toolset from the ground up.

Aurora’s platform also allows planners to manually draw solar module locations using drag-and-drop components for modules, cabling, connections, combination boxes and floor brackets, or algorithmically generating location designs on the fly. Regardless of the method, Aurora converts the resulting 3D measurements into 2D line and layout diagrams, performing hundreds of National Electric Code (NEC) compliance checks in the process.

Solar aurora

Above: Generating an Irradiance Report using Aurora Solar’s tools.

Photo credit: Aurora Solar

There is also a sale item. Aurora’s solution uses the system’s power to model loans, leases, and cash payments, and has proposal generation tools that companies can use to import calculations and other information from the project into polished, presentation-ready decks.

Aurora claims that the irradiance reports it produces are statistically equivalent to on-site measurements for any location in the world and are certified under the National Electric Code (NEC). In addition, the company is accepted by rebate agencies including the New York Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA), the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the Oregon Energy Trust, the New Jersey Clean Energy Fund, Oncor, and the Connecticut Green Bank. In March, the California Energy Commission approved Aurora for the installation of solar panels in new homes.

Aurora operates on a subscription model and offers several options: a base level of $ 135 per user per month; a premium tier of $ 220 that adds things like lidar-based modeling, NEC validation, and single line graphs; and a variable-price enterprise tier for “Organizations offering thousands of systems per month”.

As of October 2020, over 4 million commercial and residential solar systems have been designed using Aurora’s technology, a number that has grown by tens of thousands of projects each month. The company had 1 million project installations in the past six months alone, which coincided with the start of the pandemic.

Aurora’s Series B round announced today was led by Iconiq Growth with the participation of existing investors Energize Ventures, Fifth Wall and Pear VC. This brings the company’s total to $ 70 million.

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