Imagine if to go wireless, mobile phones companies made you purchase a kit to install your own tower for $8k, and then shipped you a box of minuscule widgets and a soldering gun that you have to somehow assemble into a Razor. I’m pretty sure the market density of cell phones would be about as weak as that of PV, because that is the marketing strategy that Solar Energy is currently operating under.
Now imagine you could sign a contract, and have clean, green solar energy installed at your home by professionals and pay a nominal monthly fee based on your usage with no initial outlay. Tempted? The Citizenre Corporation is counting on it. What they are offering is the chance for average Americans to have the privilege of a Solar Array on their roof. According to their website it will be as simple as having one of their technicians do a site assessment, the signing of a 1,5,or 25 year forward rental agreement (FRA) and a safety deposit of $500 (reasonable for $25k in equipment!). At the signing of the agreement you will lock in your current cost per KwH and pay Citizenre that amount for any watts their equipment sends into your home thru an interconnected inverter. For anyone who is remotely Eco Aware this is Earth Shattering. But that elation is followed immediately by “where’s the catch?”. Talk to a REnU rep and they answer simply “there is none!”. Hmmm.
Let’s dig a little deeper into Citzenre Corp. It helps to think of them not as a marketing firm, but as a PV Manufacturer, which is exactly what they want to be. They are in the process of building a massive facility capable of producing 500MW of cells annually. That would make it the single largest PV plant in the world, capable of supply 100,000 homes a year- doubling the current amount of PV in the US in their first full year. If you are going to invest in facility of this incredible scale you will need a massive market… or create one.
That helps, but I am still not convinced. Now let’s think of Citizenre as a PV Energy Supplier that wants to produce 500MW of power annually. That many PV Cells takes a massive site with all its inherent capital costs, and then you only get the chance to sell at wholesale energy rates. It really isn’t a workable model. But look at what Citizenre is doing. They need no site-they have your house. They need no distribution network-your utility neatly supplies one. And they sell the energy straight to you for retail prices. This is starting to make sense.
A couple of other neat tricks that Citizenre is using are the fact that they are cutting out the middleman-heck they are cutting out everyone. They want to make their own SG-si silicon in house, install their own arrays with a 100 dealer franchise network, and are building a massive sales network. Another cool option is that Citizenre will amass an amazing amount of Capital in Carbon markets such as the new CCX and also in supplying other old school energy producers with Renewable Energy Credit’s (REC’s) to offset their inability to Go Green.
Overall it seems just crazy and innovative enough to work. But this kind of hubris takes massive cash outlays and thus far Citizenre is keeping their cards close. Plus they have already signed up almost 3000 customers, but their factory won’t even be on line for another 10 months at least. It seems that everything about Citizenre is in the future tense, and that is where the anxiety sets in.
If its legit, and they can pull it off, it could change our world forever. Go back 15 years and ask someone if they think that in 2007 everyone will be paying $50/mo for cute little wireless phones that you can check your email (what’s that?) on. We live in an age of revolutions-seemingly anything is possible.
Stay tuned to Groovy Green for more as this story unfolds.