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About this course

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 short 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.

For more information about this course please review this guide: Compare: Solar Executive MBA Training VS Financial Modeling for Solar PV Projects

Please note - 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.

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.

Ready To Sign Up Today? Click Here to Enroll

Course outline

8 modules • 129 assignments • 16:28 hours of video lectures

Welcome • 5 assignments
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.

  • Set up email notifications and your student profile
  • Note: Microsoft Excel
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board
  • Solar Executive MBA- Overview - Keith Cronin (.pdf)
  • Recordings of Past Live Meetings - Located in Optional Materials
Module 1 • 17 assignments
Development Plan and Project Model Overview

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 (02:33 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 2: Site Control (06:46 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 3: Permitting (06:48 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 4: Offtake (04:52 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 5: Finance (09:32 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 6: Interconnection (03:20 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 7: Engineering (04:18 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 8: Construction (05:25 minutes)
  • Homework Assignment (04:29 minutes)
  • Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score
  • Download: Sample Development Plan - Excel File (.xlsx)
  • Upload Your Week 1 Development Plan Homework
  • Video Lesson 9: Part 1, Tour of the Solar MBA Model: Overview and Dashboard (31:00 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 10: Part 2, Tour of the Solar MBA Model: Unstructured (40:46 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 11: Part 3, Model Tour Partnership Flip and Customer Analysis (51:37 minutes)
  • Support Material - SolarMBA v2.1 Demo Solar PV Project Model (.xlsb)
  • Bibliography: Additional books and online resources (.pdf)
Module 2 • 20 assignments
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 (03:54 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 2: The electric bill (05:11 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 3: Excel Modeling your Distributed Generation System (06:36 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 4: Examining Costs for a Distributed Generation System (05:30 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 5: Labor Tracking (06:09 minutes)
  • Homework Week 2: Assignment 1 - Cost Modeling - Distributed Generation System (.pdf)
  • Week 2- Excel File Download- Cost Modeling - Distributed Generation System (.xlsx)
  • Homework Week 2: Assignment 1 - Distributed Generation PDF (.pdf)
  • Week 2- Electric Bill - Download (.pdf)
  • Submit Your Week 2: Assignment 1 Homework
  • Video Lesson 6 - Modeling Basic Support - 11 Functions (52:27 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 7 - Modeling More Advanced Material - Shortcuts, 4 Functions and 1 Tool (41:53 minutes)
  • Support Material: Presentation Outline for Modeling Basics Overview (PDF) (.pdf)
  • Support Material: Basic Excel Modeling Workbook (.xlsx)
  • Support Material - Commands and Formulas for Solar Modeling Accompanies Video Modeling Basics (.xlsx)
  • Support Material: More Advanced Excel Shortcuts, Function & Tool Workbook (.xlsx)
  • Homework Week 2: Assignment 2 - PV Project Modeling Exercise (pdf) (.pdf)
  • Homework Week 2: Assignment 2 - PV Project Modeling Excel Template (.xlsb)
  • Homework Week 2: Upload your completed Template PV Project Model Here
  • Quiz Week 2: Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score
Module 3 • 31 assignments
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 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: Solar Federal Tax Incentives - Intro & Investment Tax Credit (ITC) (22:07 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 2: Solar Federal Tax Incentives - Depreciation (23:36 minutes)
  • Support Material: Excel Model Depreciation Example (Video Lesson 2, Depreciation) (.xlsx)
  • Video Lesson 3: Solar Federal Program - PURPA (27:05 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 4: Incentives State Incentives Part 1 - State Tax Incentives (23:53 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 5: Incentives State Incentives Part 2, Cash Grants, PBI & FIT (20:07 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 6: Incentives State Incentives Part 3 - RPS/REC Prog. & Net Metering (36:30 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 7: Incentives State Incentives Part 4 - RPS Programs, Community Solar (29:33 minutes)
  • Support Material: Outline for Understanding Solar Incentives (.pdf)
  • Video Lesson 8 - Valuation Video (18:12 minutes)
  • Support Material: Valuation Video Outline (pdf) PDF for Valuation (.pdf)
  • Video Lesson 9: Introduction to Budgeting Your Business (03:30 minutes)
  • Download: Budgeting Excel File Template- Uses Macros (.xlsm)
  • Video Lesson 10: Budgeting Labor (04:55 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 11: Labor Productivity (05:25 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 12: Overhead- Introduction (05:19 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 13: Overhead- Advertising (02:32 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 14: Overhead- Professional Services (02:28 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 15: Overhead- Training (02:43 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 16: Overhead- Summary- Allocation (02:26 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 17: Overhead- Cost Summary (04:30 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 18: Overhead- Minimum Labor Goals (05:23 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 19: Company Breakeven (05:14 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 20: Gross Margin - Company Annual Budget (08:18 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 21: Consulting Commissions Sales Tool (03:14 minutes)
  • Download: Consulting-Commission-Excel File Template (.xlsx)
  • Homework - Budgeting PDF (.pdf)
  • Video Tutorial: File Uploads (03:17 minutes)
  • Submit your Week 3 homework: Click here to upload your file
  • Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score
  • Full working Solar and Load Analysis Model (.xlsx)
Module 4 • 22 assignments
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 (04:24 minutes)
  • RFP- Solicitation Document- Download (.pdf)
  • Video Lesson 2: RFP- Overview (06:27 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 3: RFP- Requirements (06:55 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 4: RFP- Project Team - Qualifications (07:22 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 5: RFP- System Design (06:34 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 6: RFP- Minimum Requirements (05:50 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 7: RFP- Award (11:47 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 8: RFP- Insurance (06:02 minutes)
  • RFP-Guidelines- Homework PDF File (.pdf)
  • Upload RFP Response
  • Video Lesson 9 - Structures: Partnership Flip Video (34:34 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 10 - Structures: Sale Leaseback Video (16:32 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 11 - Structures: Lease Pass-Through (Inverted Lease) Video (20:23 minutes)
  • Support Material Video Lessons 9 through 11 Lecture Notes PDF for Solar PV Structures (.pdf)
  • Video Lesson 12 - Risk Management: Insolation Video (25:11 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 13 - Risk Management: Leverage Video (32:22 minutes)
  • Support Material Lesson 13 - Leverage Example Excel Spreadsheet - Leverage Example (.xlsx)
  • Video Lesson 14 - Risk Management: Credit Risk Video (10:34 minutes)
  • Support Material Video Lessons 12 through 14 Lecture Notes - Risk Management (.pdf)
  • Homework Week 4, Assignment 1: Continuation of Modeling, PDF with Modeling Assignment (.pdf)
  • Upload Your Solar PV Model Homework Assignment
Module 5 • 20 assignments
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 (05:17 minutes)
  • LOI- Sample- Download (.docx)
  • Video Lesson 2: Introduction to a MOU - Part 1 (07:28 minutes)
  • MOU- Land Lease- Sample- Download (.docx)
  • Video Lesson 3: Introduction to a MOU - Part 2 (06:43 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 4: Introduction to the SEIA PPA- C&I - Part 1 (05:18 minutes)
  • SEIA- PPA- C&I - Download (.pdf)
  • Video Lesson 5: Introduction to the SEIA PPA- C&I - Part 2 (09:38 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 6: Introduction to the SEIA PPA- C&I - Part 3 (07:17 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 7: Introduction to the SEIA PPA- C&I - Part 4 (08:02 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 8: Introduction to an Operations & Maintenance Agreement (09:05 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 14 - Overview & SPE Video (24:28 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 15 - PPA Video (44:42 minutes)
  • Document - Lesson 15 - Form of PPA (.doc)
  • Document - Lesson 16 - O&M Form of O&M (.doc)
  • Video Lesson 17 - EPC Video (30:40 minutes)
  • Document - Lesson 17 - EPC Form of EPC (.doc)
  • Lecture Notes - Lessons 14-17 Lecture Notes (.pdf)
  • Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score
  • NREL- Commercial- PPA- Download (.docx)
Module 6 • 6 assignments
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 (05:33 minutes)
  • Excel File - Download- Financial Model (.xlsb)
  • Lesson - 2 - Summary Model Review (42:41 minutes)
  • Video Lesson - 3 - Partnership Flip: Supplemental Material on Fine Tuning the Flip Video (17:15 minutes)
  • Role of Appraisal and Cost Segregation Analysis in a Renewable Energy Project (21 minutes) (.mp3)
  • Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score
Conclusion • 8 assignments
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 (07:17 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 2: How to Write a Recruiting Ad That Attracts People (07:42 minutes)
  • Download: Recruiting Ad Writing Template- Word Doc (.docx)
  • Private LinkedIn Solar Executive MBA Alumni Group
  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey
  • Consider Joining as a HeatSpring Member
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate

Continuing Education Units

Approved for the following CEUs

  • NABCEP Advanced Credit Hours
  • NABCEP RE Elective
  • NABCEP PV Associate Renewal

Approved NABCEP CEU Hours

NABCEP Credential Advanced Hours for Exam Recertification CEU Hours NEC JTA RE Elective Building or Fire Code
5 20 0 5 12 0
0 12 0 0 0 0
0 20 5 12 0
0 20 0 5 12 0
20 20 0 20 12 0
0 20 0 0 12 0

NABCEP Registered Provider

This course counts towards the training requirements for taking NABCEP professional certification exams and CEUs for renewing all certifications.


  • Keith Cronin

    SunHedge LLC
    View profile

    What kind of world do you want to live in? Two plus decades of cleantech experience on our journey together to sequester carbon in meaningful ways. Blessed with a multidisciplinary skill set of development, finance, business, and deep connections globally. The road to your destiny is often a curved line. After a decade on the East Coast, it catapulted me to Hawaii to... Learn more

  • Chris Lord

    Managing Director, CapIron, Inc.
    View profile

    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... Learn more

Frequently asked questions

How does this course work?
You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. This 6 module course is delivered entirely online. This course is self-paced and you can set your own schedule to complete the materials. You can begin the lecture videos and other course materials as soon as you enroll. During your year of access the instructor will be in the course answering questions on the discussion board. After successfully completing the course, you will be able to generate a certificate of completion.
How is this course different from Financial Modeling for Solar PV Projects?
The Solar Executive MBA Training and Financial Modeling for Solar PV Projects courses are our two most popular solar finance courses. Both courses are taught by solar finance expert Chris Lord, and cover financial modeling for solar projects. However the content and financial models differ in each course and there are several other important differences. Please review this handy comparison guide: Compare: Solar Executive MBA Training VS Financial Modeling for Solar PV Projects. This question gets asked a lot, so there are a lot more details there. If you have further questions just contact us.
How long do I have access to the materials?
Students get unlimited access to the course materials as soon as they enroll and for one year (365 days) after enrollment. 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. After the one year of access expires, access can be extended by joining as a HeatSpring member. A single membership extends access to course materials for all past enrollments.
Does this course cover utility scale solar developments?
The default inputs for the financial model are geared toward a utility scale project, but the size can be scaled up or down as required. Both utility scale and distributed generation projects are covered and the model can be used for any size project including residential, commercial and industrial scale but the examples focus primarily on utility scale.

The course covers all of the principles behind utility scale and distributed generation solar. The models scale equally between them because the principles remain constant. That said, utility scale solar prices tend to be much lower (benefiting from the larger economies of scale), but this is reflected through management of the various input variables.

The course and materials really are infinitely expandable.

Is this course relevant for international students
Yes we get many international students who take the course. Approximately 25% of the course material is specific to the US, the rest is applicable to any country. The inputs for the financial model do focus on ITC and depreciation benefits available in US markets, but the model can be easily adapted for straight line or other depreciation methodologies, as well as differing subsidies.

For the most part, we won’t cover the specific subsidies and tax treatments for countries other than the US, but the bulk of the material is readily applicable to all solar projects regardless of the country.

Is there a certificate of completion?
Yes, 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.
How does the course work, do I have to be present at specific times, what if I miss a class?
The course content is pre-recorded so it does not have a specific time that you need to be logged in or present for the course lectures or assignments. During the 6-week instructor-led session the instructors Keith Cronin and Chris Lord will be in the course answering questions on the discussion board, reviewing and providing feedback on the required project work and hosting a weekly conference call on Fridays at 12pm to 1pm Eastern Time. The calls are a chance for students to have a discussion with the instructors and ask additional questions. The calls are optional and are recorded and posted in the class if you are unable to attend. Questions can be posted to the discussion board anytime and the instructors will respond typically within 24 hours.

You get access to all of the content as soon as you enroll and can work ahead. After the 6-week instructor led session ends, you'll continue to have access to the full course content for a full year and can complete the course on your own and print your certificate of completion, you just won't have the instructors' guidance after the session ends.

Can I register multiple people?
Yes please visit our HeatSpring for Groups page to get a group discount.
Is this course designed for working professionals. Where do you estimate the weekly time commitment to be?
Yes the course is designed for working professionals, we have had over 300 students take the course. Most are owners, c-level executives or project managers at solar companies. The amount of time spent per week depends on each student's background and level of expertise in financial modeling, as well as how much energy they put into the project work. We typically recommend setting aside 5-10 hours per week or 30-60 hours total depending on your level of experience and how much energy you want to invest in the project work. You can certainly spend more time in the course and the instructors will help support you and answer any questions that you have on the discussion board, in the conference calls and related to your specific project work.


Based on 46 reviews
students have taken this course

The Solar MBA course is an exceptional program that provides students with an in-depth understanding of the solar energy industry and the business models that support it. One of the things I appreciated about this course is the high level of expertise and knowledge that the instructors brought to the table. The curriculum is designed to be practical, relevant, and up-to-date, and the instructors are experienced professionals who have a wealth of real-world experience to share. The course covers a broad range of topics, including solar energy policy, financing, technology, and project management. I found the course materials to be well-organized and easy to follow. Overall, I would highly recommend the Solar MBA course to anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in the solar energy industry. The program provides a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that are essential for success in this field, and the instructors are dedicated to helping their students achieve their goals. Whether you are just starting out or are looking to advance your career, the Solar MBA course is an excellent investment in your future.

Edgar Lim

I would absolutely recommend this. It is packed full of valuable information, tools and knowledge.

Jeff Hohnbaum

As a seasoned project developer in the Utility Scale Solar industry, this course helped me gain a good perspective on the economics of solar projects by taking a deeper dive into solar finance models and the rationale behind the calculations that are often handled by other colleagues in different departments .

Chris Gordon
Associate Director - Project Development, EDF Distribution Scale Power

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