Solar Executive MBA Training


Length: 6 weeks

Instructors: Keith Cronin, Chris Lord

Subjects: Marketing and Sales, Energy Finance, Solar

Student Rating

Rating: 8.7/10 (Since October 2015)
211 students have taken this course


The Solar Executive MBA is technical, rigorous, and challenging. It’s the most intense six-week course you’ll ever find but also the most valuable. We developed it for leaders who are responsible for the financial details that drive solar projects.

The course gives you the financial modeling background and perspective often lacking in deal negotiations that will help you quickly and easily navigate the most complicated projects to find the quality projects you want to develop, own, and operate. The course is taught by two instructors: Keith Cronin, who built and sold his solar installation business to SunEdison, and Christopher Lord, a lawyer with extensive banking experience who works with solar companies to find viable projects and qualified investors.

Change the status quo in the world by becoming part of a clean energy revolution that requires a highly refined and up-to-date professional skill set.

Students in the Solar Executive MBA will:

The capstone project for this course means working a deal from start to finish. You'll take one of your own projects, or a sample project, through each step of the process during each week of the course, from development to financial modeling to dealing with investors, all with the expert guidance of the instructors.

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Tools & Documents Worth $25,000

This course contains over $25,000 worth of sample legal contracts, documents, and modeling tools that you will need to develop and finance a commercial solar project.

Weekly Live Conference Calls + Discussion Board Interaction

For the entire duration of the course, students post questions on the discussion board for Keith, Chris, and other students. Every Friday during the session, Keith and Chris host a 1-hour conference call (2:00 - 3:00 p.m. EDT) to discuss the week's material with the group and answer student questions. Recordings are posted for students who are unable to participate.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Keith and Chris have distilled decades of industry experience into a truly unique and valuable course. We are confident that you will get your money's worth out of this experience. After the first week of the course, it you don't agree, let us know and we'll make it right or refund your money.

Required: Microsoft Excel

You'll need a recent version of Microsoft Excel and an intermediate level of skill using the software in order to be successful in this course.

International Students Welcome

Although the lectures and discussions in this course focus on the United States, students from 18 different countries have participated. They have found that much of the material is applicable to their own work.

Note: Not a Full Master's Degree in Business Administration

This course doesn't offer college credit toward a degree. Rather, it's an intense, targeted learning experience for professionals who need to build a very specific skill set.

Self-Paced Online Course

This course is self-paced and entirely online. The lecture videos and other materials are available any time, and the instructor responds to student questions through a discussion board during the posted session dates. In order to participate, you will need an Internet connection and an up-to-date web browser. You can earn continuing education credits by completing all course assignments by the session end date.

Supported by Student Advocate – Tom McCormack

In addition to instructor support via the discussion board, students have access to Tom McCormack, HeatSpring's Student Advocate. He is available to answer general questions via email, course discussion board, or chat.

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.

The Solar Executive MBA is rigorous, in-depth, and completely worthwhile for anyone looking to further their knowledge of the financial mechanisms of the solar industry. It is not for the faint of heart (many late nights told me that). Bringing together the immense expertise and differing teaching styles of Keith Cronin and Chris Lord resulted in a very well-rounded curriculum. The combination of videos, assignments, weekly conference calls and lively discussion board felt more like in-person training than an online course! Well done Keith, Chris, and HeatSpring.

- Rachel Bannon-Godfrey, Ambient Energy

Both instructors were excellent and clearly drew upon a wealth of experience in the solar industry. I really appreciated their level of engagement in the calls and discussions board, and especially review of homework assignments.

- Rob McAtee, Hankins and Anderson

Commercial solar is all about financing and structuring the deal. While I had previously spent quite a bit of time doing financial analysis of solar PV systems, the Solar Executive MBA course provided me with the big picture of how all the pieces fit together. Not to mention the value of interacting with the instructors on questions specific to my situation. I highly recommend this course.

- Dennis Kready, Kready Solarbazaar

What an amazing course. For all people wishing to know about the ecosystem around solar, this course is for you. I am sure I would have saved myself a very large amount of money had I taken this course prior to running my own EPC.

- Greg Stace, Avensol (Switzerland)

This is the ONLY resource I have been able to find that provides step-by-step solar financial modeling instructions. If you are trying to learn more about the processes and financial analysis behind solar projects, this is the class for you!

- Lindsay Hornbecker, AquaSan

Your Instructors

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Keith Cronin

SunHedge LLC

Keith Cronin is an in-demand business consultant, speaker and founder of The Solar Business Blueprint, a life changing training program that assists business owners with the tools, resources and metrics needed to grow and manage their solar businesses. He has helped solar companies achieve their goals through his training, speeches, coaching sessions and products....[more]

Chris lord  square .png?ixlib=rb 1.1

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. Expect to dedicate a minimum of 5 hours per week to the course. Keep in mind that the instructor will be there to answer your questions and help you learn for the duration of the course. The instructor will only be available to answer questions during the posted session dates, so ask all your questions while we're in session. You will have access to all of the online materials for a full year. Contact Tom McCormack, your Student Advocate, if you have questions before or after the posted session dates. Please review the orientation materials and introduce yourself on the discussion board.

Week 1 - Development Plan

What are the 6 most critical things to consider for your project? We will go through the stages of a development plan at a high level in this video series and provide you with a scheduling tool to allow you to know quickly whether or not an opportunity will provide you with the necessary returns you're looking for and help you manage risk. The 6 critical items are: Site Control, Permitting, Power Offtake, Project Financing, Interconnection, and Engineering. Often we've discovered that these critical items are either overlooked or don't become a high priority. By not combing through this process early, many solar integrators, developers, and finance partners end up chasing too many deals, draining resources that could be put to better use to generate higher people and financial returns for all parties. The homework assignment will be to create a Project Development Plan for the scenario we have provided. Make the plan as comprehensive as possible and make it as "local" as possible. The presentation you submit must be in Excel and should take approximately 2 hours to complete. Use the discussion board to post any questions you may have.

Week 2 - Sizing DG System and Economic Modeling Basics

In this second week of our class, with an overview of project planning and our Development Plan exercise behind us, we are now ready to size the PV System and tackle the economic modeling to determine if the project is financially viable. This week's curriculum is divided into two distinct lessons: 1. Distributed Generation Sizing: We've created a sample Distributed Generation project for you to provide us with a proposal for, on your company letterhead. Take the time to assess the electric bill and bifurcate out the actual energy usage from the demand usage at the facility to come up with a true cost per kWh for electricity for your proposal. With the provided Excel tool, figure out how much solar you can put on the roof of the building and how much energy the system will create. Use the provided electric bill, Excel calculator, and follow the homework assignment. 2. Economic Modeling: For modeling, we are going to cover some basic commands, formulas and functions within Excel that will enable us to build a successful financial model of our proposed PV System. We will look at the Naming function, PMT function, If . . . Then constructions (simple and complex), IRR & NPV, LOOKUP, IFERROR, MAX, MIN, Compounding and Data Validation. Once we are comfortable with these basic commands, formulas and functions, we will graduate to our Demo Solar PV Project model. Using this fully functional model for our guide, we will take a close look at planning and structuring a Solar PV model, including some basic good housekeeping practices and organization. We will then take an in-depth tour to see how the individual modules and worksheets come together to create a look at the unstructured economics of a project and how a partnership flip works for such a project. We will focus for a close up look at the debt module, depreciation module and calculation of IRR & NPV. You will then have an opportunity for your homework assignment to build your own solar model. We will provide you with a template that shows all or most of your inputs and the necessary steps to create the unstructured view and the partnership flip view. Your task will be to build the formulas within the model the arrive at useful outputs.

Week 3 - Risk Management and Budgeting

Solar developers often win jobs due to their allocations of labor, overhead, and profits. What if there was a way to identify, measure, track and know these KPIs and share them with your team? In part 1 of this week's lesson, we go deep into your company's labor, overhead, and budgeting to give you a sense of what your costs are and how you can manage around them and make adjustments along the way. As a part of our continuing understanding of how to model the economics of our projects using our completed (or in process) demo model that we began last week, we are going to lock at the various project incentives and subsidies available to Solar projects around the country. There are four main categories - Federal Tax, State Tax, Direct Incentives and SRECs. We will also familiarize ourselves with DSIRE and take a look at feed-in tariffs. For the last part of this class, we will consider how how prospective investors will value our project, and the implications of their methods.

Week 4 - Request for Proposal & Financing Strategies

This week, we will respond to a Request for Proposal. RFP’s come out often across the globe and in your jurisdiction and understanding the requirements of a RFP and if you can meet them are critical to your success. Watch the videos on the RFP and respond to the RFP on your company contract documents. Ask questions inside the discussion board if you have any questions. In addition, we will cover the long anticipated material on solar pv financial structures, specifically the Partnership Flip, Sale-Leaseback and Pass-Through Lease (sometimes referred to as the Inverted Lease). We will also take a look at risk management in the context of project financing. Specific topics here include Insolation Risk, Leverage and Credit Risk.

Week 5 - Contract Document Explanation - Video Lessons - Why, What, How and Who Explained

As you grow your solar business, what documents you need in order to create your LOI, Land Lease, MOU, PPA, Site Lease, SPE, O&M Agreement, EPC Agreement, etc. are vital to your strategy. We will walk you through the sections in these documents, anecdotal stories and perspectives about what they are and how you will use them. An outgrowth of your Development Plan must be the Resource Management Plan. An important part of the Resource Plan is recognizing what work is best done inside vs. outside. Managing employees and contractors will be our focus of this final module because this is where you'll spend all of your time once the project is approved.

Week 6 - Putting It All Together

We will walk through our (completed) models to summarize where we got our data, and how we used it in the model, to assess the strength and financial value of our proposed project. We will also stitch together the economic model, cost modeling, development plan to give you one place to determine system price to make it flow to the modeling.

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 this course and all updates we make to it for at least a 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.

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