Finance 101 for Renewable Energy Professionals - Self Study


Author: Chris Williams

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

2,788 students are interested in this course


Take this free course to gain a basic and deeper understanding of how to evaluate and communicate the financial implications for property owners to invest in geothermal, solar PV, or solar thermal projects.

We start the course with understanding the basics of financial analysis.
You'll learn how to perform discounted cash flow analysis, calculate net present value (NPV) of a project and how the discount rate will impact the NPV, as well as the internal rate of return (IRR). More importantly, we'll discuss what these terms actually mean in plain english.

Then, we'll discuss how to calculate the financial implications of specific technologies
We'll cover the considerations that need to be taken into account that are technology-specific.

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Solar PV

Learn the basics of financing a solar PV project, how SRECs and FITs work, and more.

Solar Thermal

Learn about available incentives and the calculations necessary to analyze the return on investment.


Compare the cost to deliver 1MMBTU with different heating sources, learn about O+M costs, and get the ins and outs of financing projects.

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.

Not Eligible for Continuing Education Credits or Certificates

Since this is a free course, it is not eligible for Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) and has not been approved by any credentialing organizations (NABCEP, AIA, USGBC etc). This course is for self education purposes only and completion does not indicate a level of professional expertise or credential. Certificates of completion and CEU Credits are only available for our premium paid courses.


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Chris Williams


Chris Williams is from Faze1. Faze1 helps HVAC and solar companies laser focus their marketing by using big data to target homeowners based on their heating and solar characteristics. Go to Faze1 ( to put their data to work for you for free with free custom analysis of your service territory. Chris has worked with HeatSpring, Nexamp, Ground Energy...[more]

Course Outline

Finance Basics

In this section, you will learn how to perform discounted cash flow analysis, calculate net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), and how to set discount rates. More importantly, we'll discuss what these numbers actually mean and how to talk about them in plain English.

  • Basic Finance Terminology (Resource)
  • "Choice of Discount Rates" - Whole LifeCost Forum (Resource)
  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR) (Resource)
  • Discounting Future Income and Present Value (Resource)
  • Basic NPV and IRR Calculator (Download .xls)
Finance 101 For Solar PV

Solar PV is by far the easiest technology to determine the direct financial impacts of a project. The tutorial will walk through the impact of: 1) Gross and net installed costs, including how to calculate the value of government incentives, like MACRS 2) The impact of demand and use charges solar PV projects 3) How power production estimates and existing utility rates will impact the value a solar PV installation.

  • "Finance 101 for Solar PV Professionals" from HeatSpring Magazine (Resource)
  • "Tracking the Sun" Cost Data (Resource)
  • "Cost and Performance Assumptions for Modeling Electricity Generation Technologies" - National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (Download .pdf)
  • "Depreciation of Solar Energy Property in MACRS" - Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) (Resource)
  • "How to Calculate the MACRS Depreciation Benefit of Going Solar" - Sunbridge Solar (Resource)
  • Feed-In Tariffs - What are they and how do they work? (Resource)
  • SREC Market Pricing (Resource)
  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) (Resource)
Finance 101 for Solar Thermal

Learn the impact of 1) Government Incentives 2) Site 3) Geography and 4) Fuel type 5) and Gross and Net Installed Costs on the returns of investing in solar thermal.

  • "Finance 101 for Solar Thermal Professionals" from HeatSpring Magazine (Resource)
Finance 101 For Geothermal

For geothermal, it is more difficult to precisely predict the financial implications because there are many variables in each project. This tutorial will walk you through general financial implications for 1) Customer types 2) Construction applications 3) Various fuel sources geothermal is compared against.

  • "Finance 101 for Geothermal Professionals" from HeatSpring Magazine (Resource)
  • "Selling Geothermal as a Hedge Against Rising Energy Prices" - HeatSpring Magazine (Resource)
  • Equivalent Energy Cost Comparison of Conventional Energy Sources with Geothermal Heat Pumps (Download .xlsx)
  • "Comparative Analysis of the Life Cycle Costs of Geothermal Heat Pumps and Three Conventional HVAC Systems for an Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska" (Resource)
  • Ground Source Heat Pump Performance Survey by Dr. Steve Kavanaugh (Download .xlsx)

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