Financial Modeling for Solar PV Projects


Length: 5 weeks

Instructor: Chris Lord

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

Student Rating

Rating: 8.3/10 (view ratings)
56 students have taken this course


This is a unique and intensive hands-on course on modeling distributed generation solar PV projects. Although the course comes with sample models of an unstructured income statement, a partnership flip, and a sale-leaseback, the focus is on teaching the tools, techniques, and formulas necessary for efficient and reliable modeling. The four sessions culminate with students setting a PPA rate with escalator and valuing a real project of their own choosing using the models they built, tested, and proofed during the course.

Students will learn to quantitatively assess the value of a project at all stages of development, and measure that value from the perspective of a developer, investor, and customer with a partnership flip. Students will learn to calculate project returns (IRR and NPV), set PPA prices (with and without escalators), calculate the value of tax benefits, including MACRS depreciation and the ITC, and assess the value and timing of non-federal subsidies. Students will also learn the importance of workbook organization and information presentation.

Learning Objectives

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Included: Valuable Excel Models

Students are given a working model of an unstructured project and a project flip. Students are encouraged to create their own models based on templates provided with the class material and to use the working model as a reference tool.

Weekly conference calls

One of the best resources in this course is the ability to interact with Chris Lord, your expert instructor and your classmates. We'll have weekly conference calls on Fridays each week during the course. The calls will be recorded and posted if you miss them.

Self-Paced Online Course

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. The course will not officially begin until the scheduled start date, but students are encouraged to work ahead when possible.

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. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world.

Earn a Certificate of Completion

When you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our one-click LinkedIn integration.

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Chris Lord

CapIron, Inc.

Christopher J. Lord is a lawyer with deep banking experience, and the Managing Director of CapIron, Inc., a firm he founded in late 2011, to provide advisory and consulting services to customers, owners, developers, utilities, suppliers, installers and distributors covering the full range of value-add in renewable energy and energy efficiency. CapIron has provided...[more]

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Course Outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can complete the material whenever is convenient and work ahead or catch up if you fall behind. The course discussion board is a great place to interact with other students and ask questions. Expect to dedicate a minimum of 5 hours per week to the course. This session runs for the posted dates and you will receive weekly emails to keep you on pace. Course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after the course ends. Please review the orientation materials and introduce yourself on the discussion board.

  • Introduction to HeatSpring (1 minute) (Video) preview
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile (Text)
  • Join the Alumni Network: Add education to your LinkedIn profile in one click (Resource)
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board (Text)
Week 1 - Introduction to Modeling

TOPICS: General Principles, Good Practices, Important Functions, Formulas, Commands & Techniques. HOMEWORK: Create a Lease vs. Buy Calculator for Any Project Site

  • Course Overview (7 minutes) (Video)
  • Housekeeping (10 minutes) (Video)
  • Planning and Organizing (20 minutes) (Video)
  • Homework Assignment Description and File Upload (Submit File)
  • Solar Modeling Class 1 Homework Sample - Site Lease vs. Buy (Excel) (Download .xlsx)
  • Week 1 Presentation Slides (Download .pdf)
  • Solar Model with 8760 and Cash Flow v1.5 (Download .xlsx)
Week 2 - Understanding Key Concepts

TOPICS: Tax Benefits: ITC & Depreciation, Reflecting State Taxes & Incentives, Working with Leverage, Understanding P95 & Insolation. HOMEWORK: Create a Debt Module for Amortizing & Sculpted Loans using template.

  • Model Tour - Overview and Dashboard (19 minutes) (Video)
  • Model Tour - Solar Production and Revenue (16 minutes) (Video)
  • Model Tour - Partnership Flip and Customer Analysis (25 minutes) (Video)
  • Model Tour - Unstructured and EBITDA (20 minutes) (Video)
  • Homework Assignment - Unstructured Model (Download .pdf)
  • Homework Assignment - File Upload (Submit File)
  • Supplemental Video - Auditing & Correcting a Name for Insurance Calculations (Video)
  • Solar Model with 8760 and Cash Flow Template for Homework v1.6 (Download .xlsx)
  • Partnership Flip Overview (Download .pdf)
Week 3 - Modeling and Analysis, Part 1

TOPICS: Basic Unstructured Project Model, Buyout Calculations, Mastering IRR and NPV, Using Goal Seek for PPA Pricing. HOMEWORK: Create an Unstructured Model of a Solar Project using the provided template

  • Modeling Overview: 12 Basic Commands, Functions, and Formulas - Part 1 (36 minutes) (Video)
  • Modeling Overview: 12 Basic Commands, Functions, and Formulas - Part 2 (18 minutes) (Video)
  • Modeling Overview: 12 Basic Commands, Functions, and Formulas - Part 3 (15 minutes) (Video)
  • Modeling Overview: Four Important Features or Tools (28 minutes) (Video)
  • Week 3 Homework (Download .pdf)
  • Homework Assignment - File Upload (Submit File)
  • Solar Model - 12 Basic Commands Formulas and Functions (Download .xlsx)
Week 4 - Modeling and Analysis, Part 2

TOPICS: Using Goal Seek for PPA Pricing, Modeling Partnership Flips for Year-End and Mid-Year Flips, Analysis and Risk Management, Integrating Your Model with your Business. HOMEWORK: Create a Partnership Flip with provided template; goal seek a PPA price.

  • Depreciation (28 minutes) (Video)
  • Presentation Slides - Depreciation (Download .pdf)
  • Depreciation Example (Download .xlsx)
  • Understanding and Modeling the Partnership Flip (35 minutes) (Video)
  • Presentation Slides - Partnership Flip (Download .pdf)
  • Leverage (34 minutes) (Video)
  • Presentation Slides - Leverage (Download .pdf)
  • Leverage Example (Download .xlsx)
  • Complete & Upload the Customer Analysis Worksheet in your Template Model. (Submit File)
Week 5 - Build and Submit Your Own Project Modeling Tool

This is your opportunity to customize the model template from class to be used most efficiently on the projects you're working on.

  • Upload Your Modeling Tool (Submit File)
After The Course - Feedback and Additional Resources

No matter how great this course is, we know it's just one part of a bigger journey. In this module we'll start thinking about what comes next. You'll provide feedback on the course, request a certificate of completion, and learn about additional resources. Don't forget that you'll have access to the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year). Feel free to come back as much as you like to continue learning, and please stay in touch. Let us know what you do next and how we can help.

  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials (Text)
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)
  • Consider Joining as a Founding Member (Resource)
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate (Certificate)
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Free Tools Used in this course

Site Lease vs. Buy Modeling Calculator

Author: Chris Lord