Rating: 8.6/10 (view ratings)
377 students have taken this course
We are excited to announce this new and improved version of our most popular course ever. The entire course has just been updated in May 2020 with brand new material.
Access the tools, knowledge, and network you need to close solar deals, increase your bottom line, and grow your solar business. 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. Access financial modeling tools and legal documents worth $25k.
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.
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.
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 Conference Calls
One of the best resources in this course is the ability to interact with the expert instructors and your classmates. We'll have weekly conference calls on Fridays each week during the scheduled session dates. The calls will be recorded and posted if you miss them.
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. This course policy is an exception to HeatSpring's refund policy and does not apply to other courses.
International Students Welcome
Although the lectures and discussions in this course focus on the United States, students from over 20 different countries have participated. They have found that much of the material is applicable to their own work.
Flexible Online Training for Industry Professionals
You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. Get access to all of the course materials as soon as you enroll. The instructor-led session will begin on the scheduled start date. During the session dates the instructor will be in the course answering questions on the discussion board. After the instructor-led session ends, you'll continue to have access to all of the course materials for a full year and can complete the course 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 the session end date. 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.
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 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
Great course. Chris and Keith are top-notch solar experts that will guide you through the understanding of solar financing and how the market works. This course is great for those seeking a more in depth understating on how to structure financial models for different scenarios out there like PPAs, partnership flips, etc. Highly recommended.
- Ernesto Grossmann, Golden Solar Electric
The course gave me hands-on tools and techniques to understand the solar energy business and apply to my projects. Thumbs up!
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]
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]
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 (Video - 01:25 minutes) preview
Set up email notifications and your student profile (Text)
Note: Microsoft Excel (Text)
Introduce yourself on the discussion board (Text)
Important: Course Entry Survey (Resource)
Solar Executive MBA- Overview - Keith Cronin (Download .pdf)
What are the six most critical factors to consider for your project? This week, we will go through the stages of a development plan and provide a scheduling tool you can use to quickly assess if a prospective project will provide you with the necessary returns and help you manage risk.
The six critical items are: site control, permitting, power offtake, project financing, interconnection, and engineering. We've discovered that these critical items are often overlooked or not properly prioritized. 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.
The week's homework assignment is to create a project development plan for a sample scenario, including as many relevant details as possible.
Video Lesson 1: Introduction to the Development Plan (Video - 02:33 minutes)
Video Lesson 2: Site Control (Video - 06:46 minutes)
Video Lesson 3: Permitting (Video - 06:48 minutes)
Video Lesson 4: Offtake (Video - 04:52 minutes)
Video Lesson 5: Finance (Video - 09:32 minutes)
Video Lesson 6: Interconnection (Video - 03:20 minutes)
Video Lesson 7: Engineering (Video - 04:18 minutes)
Video Lesson 8: Construction (Video - 05:25 minutes)
Homework Assignment (Video - 04:29 minutes)
Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score (Quiz)
Audio Recording of Class Call, 10/25/19 (Audio .mp3)
Download: Sample Development Plan - Excel File (Download .xlsx)
Bibliography: Additional books and online resources (Download .pdf)
Upload Your Week 1 Development Plan Homework (Submit File)
Part 1, Tour of the Solar MBA Model: Overview and Dashboard (Video - 31:00 minutes)
Part 2, Tour of the Solar MBA Model: Unstructured (Video - 40:46 minutes)
Video Model Tour Part 3: Partnership Flip and Customer Analysis (Video - 51:37 minutes)
Sizing a Distributed Generation System and Economic Modeling Basics
This module, 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 module's curriculum is divided into two lessons: The first lesson covers distributed generation sizing. We've created a sample distributed generation project for you to evaluate and provide a proposal for. You'll look at the electric bill and determine 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 Excel tool that is provided, you'll figure out how much solar you can put on the roof of the building and how much energy the system will create.
The second lesson covers economic modeling. We cover some basic commands, formulas and functions within Excel that will enable us to build a successful financial model of our proposed PV system. 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 as 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 internal rate of return (IRR) and net present value (NPV).
Video Lesson 1: Introduction to Sizing Distribution System (Video - 03:54 minutes)
Video Lesson 2: The electric bill (Video - 05:11 minutes)
Video Lesson 3: Excel Modeling your Distributed Generation System (Video - 06:36 minutes)
Video Lesson 4: Examining Costs for a Distributed Generation System (Video - 05:30 minutes)
Video Lesson 5: Labor Tracking (Video - 06:09 minutes)
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 key performance indicators and share them with your team? In the first part 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 them and make adjustments.
As you continue to develop your understanding of how to model the project economics using your completed (or in-process) demo model, you will look 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 solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs). We will also familiarize ourselves with the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) and touch upon feed-in tariffs. To conclude the week, we will consider how how prospective investors value a project and the implications of their methods.
Video Lesson 1: Introduction to Budgeting Your Business (Video - 03:30 minutes)
Video Tutorial: File Uploads (Video - 03:17 minutes)
Submit your Week 3 homework: Click here to upload your file (Submit File)
Video Lesson 9 - Incentives Part 1 Video (Video - 30:27 minutes)
Video Lesson 10 - Incentives Part 2 Video (Video - 22:28 minutes)
Video Lesson 11 - Valuation Video (Video - 18:12 minutes)
Video Lessons 9 & 10 - Outline PDF for Incentives (Download .pdf)
Video Lesson 11 - Outline PDF for Valuation (Download .pdf)
Support Material: Excel Model Depreciation Example (Download .xlsx)
Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score (Quiz)
Audio Recording of Class Call, 11/08/19 (Audio .mp3)
Solar Federal Tax Incentives - Tax Credit (Video - 22:07 minutes)
Solar Federal Tax Incentives - Depreciation (Video - 23:36 minutes)
Solar Federal Program - PURPA (Video - 27:05 minutes)
Incentives State Incentives Part 1 - State Tax Incentives (Video - 23:53 minutes)
Incentives State Incentives Part 2, Cash Grants, PBI & FIT (Video - 20:07 minutes)
Incentives State Incentives Part 3 - RPS/REC Prog. & Net Metering (Video - 36:30 minutes)
Incentives State Incentives Part 4 - RPS Programs, Community Solar (Video - 29:33 minutes)
Full working Solar and Load Analysis Model (Download .xlsx)
Request for Proposal (RFP) and Financing Strategies
This week, you will learn about request for proposal (RFP) process and respond to a sample RFP. RFPs are put out for many projects and understanding the requirements of an RFP and if you can meet them is critical to your success. In addition, we will cover 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 include insolation risk, leverage and credit risk. You will receive a sample RFP document and an Excel model for calculating leverage on a deal.
Video Lesson 1: RFP- Intro (Video - 04:24 minutes)
Video Lesson 2: RFP- Overview (Video - 06:27 minutes)
Video Lesson 3: RFP- Requirements (Video - 06:55 minutes)
Video Lesson 4: RFP- Project Team - Qualifications (Video - 07:22 minutes)
Video Lesson 5: RFP- System Design (Video - 06:34 minutes)
Video Lesson 6: RFP- Minimum Requirements (Video - 05:50 minutes)
Video Lesson 7: RFP- Award (Video - 11:47 minutes)
Video Lesson 8: RFP- Insurance (Video - 06:02 minutes)
RFP-Guidelines- Homework PDF File (Download .pdf)
Upload RFP Response (Submit File)
Video Lesson 3 - Structures: Partnership Flip Video (Video - 34:34 minutes)
Video Lesson 4 - Structures: Sale Leaseback Video (Video - 16:32 minutes)
Video Lesson 5 - Structures: Lease Pass-Through Video (Video - 20:23 minutes)
Support Material Lesson 3-5 Lecture Notes PDF for Solar PV Structures (Download .pdf)
Video Lesson 6 - Risk Management: Insolation Video (Video - 25:11 minutes)
Video Lesson 7 - Risk Management: Leverage Video (Video - 32:22 minutes)
Support Material Lesson 7 - Leverage Example Excel Spreadsheet - Leverage Example (Download .xlsx)
Video Lesson 8 - Risk Management: Credit Risk Video (Video - 10:34 minutes)
Support Material Lessons 6-8 Lecture Notes - Risk Management (Download .pdf)
Homework Class 4 - Modeling: PDF with Modeling Assignment (Download .pdf)
Upload Your Solar PV Model Homework Assignment (Submit File)
Audio Recording of Class Call, 11/15/19 (Audio .mp3)
Contract Document Explanation - Video Lessons - Why, What, How and Who Explained
As you expand your solar business, legal and contractual documents will become vital to your risk management and general strategy. These may include: letter of intent (LOI), land lease, memorandum of understanding (MOU), power purchase agreement (PPA), site lease, special purpose entity (SPE), operation and maintenance (O&M) agreement, engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) agreement, etc.
This week, we will provide sample documents for your reference, walk you through the essential elements of the documents, and share anecdotes and perspectives about what they are and how you will use them.
An outgrowth of your development plan must be a resource management plan. An important part of a resource management plan is recognizing what work is best done internally versus externally. We'll spend some time discussing how to manage employees and contractors. This is a critical consideration because it's how you'll spend all of your time once you get a project approved.
Video Lesson 1: Introduction to a LOI (Video - 05:17 minutes)
LOI- Sample- Download (Download .docx)
Video Lesson 2: Introduction to a MOU - Part 1 (Video - 07:28 minutes)
MOU- Land Lease- Sample- Download (Download .docx)
Video Lesson 3: Introduction to a MOU - Part 2 (Video - 06:43 minutes)
Video Lesson 4: Introduction to the SEIA PPA- C&I - Part 1 (Video - 05:18 minutes)
SEIA- PPA- C&I - Download (Download .pdf)
Video Lesson 5: Introduction to the SEIA PPA- C&I - Part 2 (Video - 09:38 minutes)
Video Lesson 6: Introduction to the SEIA PPA- C&I - Part 3 (Video - 07:17 minutes)
Video Lesson 7: Introduction to the SEIA PPA- C&I - Part 4 (Video - 08:02 minutes)
Video Lesson 8: Introduction to an Operations & Maintenance Agreement (Video - 09:05 minutes)
Video Lesson 14 - Overview & SPE Video (Video - 24:28 minutes)
Video Lesson 15 - PPA Video (Video - 44:42 minutes)
Document - Lesson 15 - Form of PPA (Download .doc)
Document - Lesson 16 - O&M Form of O&M (Download .doc)
Video Lesson 17 - EPC Video (Video - 30:40 minutes)
Document - Lesson 17 - EPC Form of EPC (Download .doc)
Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score (Quiz)
Class Call 5 Recording (Audio .mp3)
NREL- Commercial- PPA- Download (Download .docx)
Putting It All Together
This week, we will walk through our completed models, summarize where we got our data and how we used it, and assess the strength and financial value of our proposed project. We will also stitch together the economic model, cost modeling, and development plan to give you one place to determine system price to make it flow to the modeling. We will also answer any lingering questions from the the previous five weeks of the course.
Video Lesson 1: Putting It All Together (Video - 05:33 minutes)
Excel File - Download- Financial Model (Download .xlsb)
Video Lesson - 3 - Partnership Flip: Supplemental Material on Fine Tuning the Flip Video (Video - 17:15 minutes)
Role of Appraisal and Cost Segregation Analysis in a Renewable Energy Project (21 minutes) (Audio .mp3)
Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score (Quiz)
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 for 12 months after the session ends. Feel free to come back as much as you like to continue learning, and please stay in touch. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership.
Video Lesson 1: How to Write a Recruiting Ad That Attracts People (Video - 07:17 minutes)
Video Lesson 2: How to Write a Recruiting Ad That Attracts People (Video - 07:42 minutes)
Download: Recruiting Ad Writing Template- Word Doc (Download .docx)
Private LinkedIn Solar Executive MBA Alumni Group (Resource)
1 Year of Access to
Course Materials (Text)
Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey (Survey)
Consider Joining as a HeatSpring Member (Resource)
Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate (Certificate)