Sunrun offers partners 'BrightPath'

Sunrun is set to roll out its proprietary BrightPath software platform for use by its downstream sales and installation partners, in a move it hopes will accelerate its penetration in the fiercely competitive US residential solar market.

BrightPath is designed to streamline the process of selling and installing rooftop PV systems, as San Francisco-based Sunrun vies for customers with the likes of SolarCity and Vivint Solar -- the latter of which has just filed papers for an upcoming IPO.

Under development for a number of years, and the recipient last year of a $1.6m “cooperation agreement” from the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, BrightPath has been compared by Sunrun to AutoCAD, the software platform that has automated many elements of the design process for architects and engineers.

The BrightPath platform takes in a number of variables – such as the shape and angle of a given roof, the amount of sunlight an area receives, and the specific energy goals a potential customer may have – and then spits out automatically generated system designs, which can then be tweaked further based on customer preference.

A growing number of US solar companies use such in-house software to design PV systems and streamline sales, but Sunrun says BrightPath is unique in being a cloud-based system – meaning it can access “hundreds of variables and thousands of solar system designs in a matter of seconds”.

Starting this autumn, Sunrun will make BrightPath available to its certified downstream partners, allowing it to “enter and scale quickly in new markets”.

Earlier this year Sunrun acquired the residential division of California-based REC Solar, giving it boots on the ground for the first time. Previously, Sunrun had mainly acted as a financier using the third-party ownership model, reliant on a network of downstream sales and installation partners to drum up business and get systems in place.

In spite of the REC Solar acquisition, Sunrun has made clear that it expects to continue leaning heavily on local “channel” partners -- and BrightPath represents another reason for them to bring work to Sunrun's doorstep.

Sunrun has been vocal in its belief that in spite of the recent sector consolidation, a significant portion of the US residential PV market will always belong to local companies.