Enpal, a German solar energy startup, is doing its part to provide more households with solar rooftops. In late October, Enpal raised EUR 150 million, or around $174 million, from several prominent investors in a Series C financing round. The round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. As a result of this investment, Enpal is now Germany’s first green energy unicorn startup.
“We are excited and humbled to have SoftBank Vision Fund 2 on board and supporting our mission to make clean energy easy, affordable, and accessible for everyone,” said Enpal’s founder and CEO Mario Kohle.
Founded in 2017 and based in Berlin, Germany, Enpal has grown at a record pace. The startup brands itself as a provider of solar power systems, purchased or rented, to homeowners with no required upfront investment. Enpal is currently a private company with over 500 employees.
A Worldwide Vision for Solar Energy
Mario Kohle and his startup team believe Enpal has a critical mission. “The fight against climate change is one of the biggest challenges of humankind and truly our moonshot mission,” states Kohle.
Observers consider the startup to be a market leader in providing homeowners with solar solutions. One key to the company’s success is that it offers subscription plans requiring little to no upfront investment. Enpal’s solar panel installation process is highly customer-friendly. The company takes care of the installation itself or uses certified partners. Homeowners are also provided with consultation and planning services.
German entrepreneurs founded the company, and it is based in Germany. Co-founders Mario Kohle, Viktor Wingert, and Jochen Ziervogel aim for Enpal to attain global reach. As CEO, Mario Kohle has worked to become as fluent in English and French as in his native German.
The ultimate vision for the company is much broader than just solar rooftops. Enpal’s co-founders envision reducing electricity expenditure by providing solar and other green all-inclusive solutions to communities worldwide. “Our dream is to bring a solar system to every roof, battery storage into every home, an electric car in front of every door, and to connect all people from all walks of life to a sustainable community,” Kohle commented.
Another Player in the Solar Energy Industry
The solar energy industry is replete with other competitors, including Aurora Solar. Based in California, Aurora Solar recently raised a $250 million Series C round. Aurora Solar uses aerial scans and advanced software to design and install solar panel systems. Instead of physically going to a house and manually taking rooftop measurements for solar panel installation, Aurora Solar’s technology uses topographical images to avoid travel to the site.
Influx of Funding to Alternative Energy Sources
Investment in clean energy startups is at an all-time high. According to Crunchbase, over $11 billion in venture capital investments has gone to renewable energy startups so far this year. That is nearly double the $5.6 billion invested in the sector for all of 2020. Ironically, a significant amount of investment in clean energy startups has come from large oil and gas companies. As interest in environmental sustainability has peaked, large oil and gas companies have entered into partnerships with greentech startups.
The influx of funding to companies that provide alternative energy sources is also driven by rising political pressures and incentives. In early November 2021, world leaders gathered at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. Parties from across the globe discussed measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Governments of several countries are incentivizing the use of green alternatives. For example, they are providing tax credits and rebates to promote solar power and electric vehicles.
“Rising electricity prices and increasing demand mean renewable energy adoption is rapidly becoming mainstream,” said Yanni Pipilis, Managing Partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We believe Enpal offers customers an all-in-one solar solution, lowering the barriers to entry for consumers.”
Prospects for Enpal Look Strong
Enpal currently has over 10,000 customers in Germany. In the near term, the company aims to both expand further in Germany’s market as well as to make strides in overseas markets.
Like its competitors, Enpal uses advanced software to operate a largely remote process. AI-based algorithms take aerial photos of rooftops. Following the photos, computer vision techniques are deployed to approximate the measurements for the solar panel installation. This means workers must only visit the house for the actual solar panel installation. This is both more efficient and cost-efficient for homeowners.
As the push for clean energy technology continues, prospects for Enpal look strong. However, Enpal will have to be careful to not be overleveraged. The customer does not pay the full cost of the solar panel system upfront. Because the system could cost between $15,000 and $40,000 for a 2,000 square foot house, Enpal assumes a lot of debt.