SolarCity eyes 1GW in 2015

SolarCity raised its 2014 deployment guidance and suggested that it may install 1GW of capacity in 2015, sending its shares up in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

SolarCity's net loss in the first quarter more than doubled year on year, to $75.2m, as it continues to spend heavily on sales and marketing to get leased PV systems in place that will generate revenue over the next two decades.

But in its earnings statement the company expressed “growing confidence in the outlook for both demand the scaling of our operations”, as it achieved record quarterly bookings of 136MW, and raised its full-year deployment guidance to 500MW-550MW.

For the first time SolarCity tipped its hand on its expectations for 2015, saying that expects to deploy 900MW-1,000MW of capacity.

The company’s revenues came in at $63.5m, more than double its performance in the same quarter last year, with turnover split more or less evenly between operating leases in place and outright sales of PV systems.

On the other hand, sales and marketing expenses for the quarter came in at nearly $47m, compared to less than $18m last year.

SolarCity has set the US renewables industry abuzz with its two recent sales of securitized solar assets, with several rival rooftop PV companies tipped to follow suit this year.

While the company’s share have fallen sharply since peaking around $86 in February, they are still worth more than five times their IPO price of $8. Shares jumped more than 5% in after-hours trading on the quarterly results, leaving them around $50.

While SolarCity still dominates the residential PV installation sector in the US, accounting for more than one-quarter of installations last year by GTM Research’s reckoning, the industry is becoming increasingly competitive, with a number of energy heavyweights moving in.

Among other recent deals with implications for SolarCity, German utility E.ON bought an equity stake in Sungevity; Google committed $100m to SunPower’s solar-leasing fund; and NRG Energy acquired Roof Diagnostics Solar, a rooftop installation firm.

Google has also invested in SolarCity's leasing fund.

SolarCity’s recent launch into Nevada means it is now operating in 15 US states.