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Commercial Solar PPAs 101 - Self Study


Authors: Keith Cronin, Chris Lord, Mahesh Bhave

Subjects: Solar: Energy Finance, Solar: Marketing and Sales

Student Rating

8.5 out of 10 (view ratings)
3,521 students have taken this course


This is the most in-depth free course on commercial solar finance and microgrids available online. You'll learn the basics of community solar, how Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) work, the key legal structures used to finance projects, the basics of financial modeling, and how to determine the economic feasibility of microgrids.

After taking this course you will understand:

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Flexible Online Training for Industry Professionals

This is a self-study, self-paced online course. You can begin instantly upon enrollment and complete the course materials at your own pace.

Access Information and Build Your Training Library

After enrolling, the course materials will remain in your account and be accessible 12 months (1 year) after enrollment. Access can be extended beyond 1 year with a monthly membership. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Certificates of Completion Available for Members Only

Certificates of completion are only provided to HeatSpring Membership subscribers. This course has not been approved by any credentialing organizations (NABCEP, AIA, USGBC etc) for Continuing Education Credits (CEUs). This course is for self education purposes only and completion does not indicate a level of professional expertise or credential.


Keith Cronin

SunHedge LLC

Keith Cronin is an in-demand business consultant. He has helped solar companies achieve their goals through his perspective, recruiting, coaching sessions and products. After his company was acquired by SunEdison, he decided to help people and serve others in Hawaii and across the globe. After his tenure with SunEdison, he founded SunHedge. SunHedge assists small...[more]

Chris Lord

Managing Director, CapIron, Inc.

Christopher J. Lord is the Managing Director of CapIron, Inc., a firm focused, among other things, on helping clients plan, structure and close financings involving renewable energy projects, including Distributed Generation and Utility-Scale Projects. Mr. Lord graduated from Cornell Law School, and practiced corporate law in firms, and in-house, for over 25 years. He...[more]

Mahesh Bhave

Visiting Professor, Indian Institute of Management

Mahesh Bhave is a Visiting Professor of Strategy at Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, India. He has worked in product management, strategy, and business development positions at Hughes, Sprint, and Citizens in the United States. He is the founder of a rich media communications start-up in San Diego, CA. He is an engineer from IIT, New Delhi and Ph.D. from...[more]

Course Outline

Legal Structures 101

This module includes a recording of a one-hour event—with solar finance experts Chris Lord and Keith Cronin—on how commercial solar EPCs can develop and own their own solar projects. The second section of this course will deal with the basic concepts and terms behind the legal structures used to finance commercial solar PPAs. We'll cover tax equity structures, tax perspectives on partnership flips, how passive loss issues impact the legal structure of projects, and also provide an open source PPA contract.

  • How Commercial Solar EPCs Can Finance Their Own Projects (Video - 01:03:49 hours)
  • Primary Tax Equity Finance Structures (Download .pdf)
  • Reading: Tax Perspectives on a Partnership Flip (Download .pdf)
  • A Discussion of Partnership Flips (Video - 02:18 minutes)
  • Master PPA Structures (Video - 05:53 minutes)
  • Special Owner/Lessor Arrangements (Video - 06:12 minutes)
  • Sample PPA Agreement Template (Download .docx)
  • "How We Financed a 13kW Community Solar Project on a Church in Massachusetts" - HeatSpring Magazine (Resource)
  • Basics of Commercial Solar Legal Structures (8 questions) (Quiz)
Due Diligence and Bankability

This section contains an introduction to the basics of project bankability. Bankability and due diligence are critical to the success of a project. We'll cover how to structure a bankable solar project, how to assess risk with a non-profit solar client, and how to understand and reduce equipment and manufacturer risk.

  • Six Stages of Solar Bankability (Download .pdf)
  • How to Structure a Bankable Solar PV Project (Resource)
  • Assessing Risks with Non-Profit PPAs (Video - 10:39 minutes)
Finance and Modeling 101

This section covers the basic terms and concepts related to modeling solar projects. You'll learn how to understand risk in SREC markets, the impact of leverage on projects, all the variables you need to understand when financing a project.

  • Introduction to Leverage - Khan Academy (10:00) (Resource)
  • Understanding Debt, Risk, and Leverage (Resource)
  • Pre- and Post-Tax Returns (Video - 10:56 minutes)
  • Understanding Risk in SREC and ZREC Markets (Video - 06:36 minutes)
  • Audio: Advice from a $20MM Solar Project Investor (Resource)
Microgrid Modeling

In this section, you will learn what factors determine the economic feasibility of microgrids and how to determine the economics of a microgrid. The instructor for this section is primarily Dr. Mahesh Bhave, the instructor for our Microgrid MBA.

  • Presentation Slides: Microgrid Economics & Feasibility (Download .pdf)
  • "Microgrid Economics and Feasibility" - Part 1 - Lecture (Video - 24:32 minutes)
  • "Microgrid Economics and Feasibility" - Part 2 - Questions (Video - 24:59 minutes)

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