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Solar Executive MBA Training

by Keith Cronin and 1 other • Last updated 01/2023

4.4/5 (view ratings)
443 students
6 modules
18:59 hours
143 assignments

Course description

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

Preview the course material

Check out a free preview of the course by clicking the button below. This is a live assignment from the course and will give you a good sense for what the course will be like.

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Continuing Education Units

Approved for: NABCEP Advanced Credit Hours, NABCEP JTA, 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.

Get NABCEP Certifications

Full 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.

  • Next Live Meeting - Friday, April 7, 2023 from 1-2pm Eastern (USA)
  • Introduction to HeatSpring (01:25 minutes) Preview
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile
  • Note: Microsoft Excel
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board
  • Important: Course Entry Survey
  • Solar Executive MBA- Overview - Keith Cronin (.pdf)
  • Recordings of Past Live Meetings - Located in Optional Materials
Module 1 - Development Plan

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)
  • Bibliography: Additional books and online resources (.pdf)
  • Upload Your Week 1 Development Plan Homework
  • Part 1, Tour of the Solar MBA Model: Overview and Dashboard (31:00 minutes)
  • Part 2, Tour of the Solar MBA Model: Unstructured (40:46 minutes)
  • Video Model Tour Part 3: Partnership Flip and Customer Analysis (51:37 minutes)
Module 2 - 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)
  • Week 2- Homework Assignment- Cost Modeling - Distributed Generation System (.pdf)
  • Week 2- Excel File Download- Cost Modeling - Distributed Generation System (.xlsx)
  • Homework - Week - 2 - Distributed Generation PDF (.pdf)
  • Week 2- Electric Bill - Download (.pdf)
  • Submit Your Homework
  • Support Material: Modeling Basics Overview (PDF) (.pdf)
  • Video Lesson 4 - Modeling Basics Overview Video (09:36 minutes) Preview
  • Video Lesson 5 - Modeling Basics Part 2 Video (15:12 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 6 - Modeling Basics Part 3 Video (22:37 minutes) Preview
  • Video Lesson 7 - Demo PV Model Overview Video (17:40 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 8 - Demo PV Model Part 2 Video (17:49 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 9 - Demo PV Model Part 3 Video (14:05 minutes)
  • Support Material - Commands and Formulas for Solar Modeling Accompanies Video Modeling Basics (.xlsx)
  • Support Material - Demo PV Project Model Accompanies Video Demo PV Model (.xlsx)
  • Homework - Week - 2 PV Project Modeling Assignment PDF (.pdf)
  • Homework - Week - 2 PV Project Modeling Template Excel Model Template Homework (.xlsb)
  • Homework: Upload your PV Project Model Here
  • Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score
  • Modeling More Advanced Material - Shortcuts, 4 Functions and 1 Tool (41:53 minutes)
  • Modeling Basic Support - 11 Functions (52:27 minutes)
  • Excel Support Material: Basic Modeling (.xlsx)
  • Excel Support Material: More Advanced Shortcuts, Function & Tool (.xlsx)
  • SolarMBA v2.1 Demo Solar PV Project Model (.xlsb)
  • Homework Template for Demo Solar PV Project Model (.xlsb)
Module 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 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 (03:30 minutes)
  • Download: Budgeting Excel File Template- Uses Macros (.xlsm)
  • Video Lesson 2: Budgeting Labor (04:55 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 3: Labor Productivity (05:25 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 4: Overhead- Introduction (05:19 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 5: Overhead- Advertising (02:32 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 6: Overhead- Professional Services (02:28 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 7: Overhead- Training (02:43 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 8: Overhead- Summary- Allocation (02:26 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 9: Overhead- Cost Summary (04:30 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 10: Overhead- Minimum Labor Goals (05:23 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 11: Company Breakeven (05:14 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 12: Gross Margin - Company Annual Budget (08:18 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 13: Consulting-Commisions-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
  • Video Lesson 9 - Incentives Part 1 Video (30:27 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 10 - Incentives Part 2 Video (22:28 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 11 - Valuation Video (18:12 minutes)
  • Video Lessons 9 & 10 - Outline PDF for Incentives (.pdf)
  • Video Lesson 11 - Outline PDF for Valuation (.pdf)
  • Support Material: Excel Model Depreciation Example (.xlsx)
  • Take the quiz for this week and earn a passing score
  • Solar Federal Tax Incentives - Tax Credit (22:07 minutes)
  • Solar Federal Tax Incentives - Depreciation (23:36 minutes)
  • Solar Federal Program - PURPA (27:05 minutes)
  • Incentives State Incentives Part 1 - State Tax Incentives (23:53 minutes)
  • Incentives State Incentives Part 2, Cash Grants, PBI & FIT (20:07 minutes)
  • Incentives State Incentives Part 3 - RPS/REC Prog. & Net Metering (36:30 minutes)
  • Incentives State Incentives Part 4 - RPS Programs, Community Solar (29:33 minutes)
  • Full working Solar and Load Analysis Model (.xlsx)
  • Solar Executive MBA 2.0 Understanding Solar Incentives (.pdf)
Module 4 - 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 3 - Structures: Partnership Flip Video (34:34 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 4 - Structures: Sale Leaseback Video (16:32 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 5 - Structures: Lease Pass-Through Video (20:23 minutes)
  • Support Material Lesson 3-5 Lecture Notes PDF for Solar PV Structures (.pdf)
  • Video Lesson 6 - Risk Management: Insolation Video (25:11 minutes)
  • Video Lesson 7 - Risk Management: Leverage Video (32:22 minutes)
  • Support Material Lesson 7 - Leverage Example Excel Spreadsheet - Leverage Example (.xlsx)
  • Video Lesson 8 - Risk Management: Credit Risk Video (10:34 minutes)
  • Support Material Lessons 6-8 Lecture Notes - Risk Management (.pdf)
  • Homework Class 4 - Modeling: PDF with Modeling Assignment (.pdf)
  • Upload Your Solar PV Model Homework Assignment
Module 5 - 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 - 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 - 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


Keith Cronin

SunHedge LLC

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... Learn more

Chris Lord

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... Learn more


43 reviews

443 students have taken this course

by Ed Rilkoff, Energy Consultant, Self-Employed 12/04/2020

This is a great course. The content was ideal for someone like me that has experience in the energy industry but not in solar development. It focuses on what you need to know to be successful and is hands-on.

by Michael Fried, Business Development Manager, Pure Power Contractors Inc. 11/18/2019

Very well thought out class; I wish I took this course when I was getting started in PV development several years ago. The materials included (in particular the excel models) could help accelerate your learning curve exponentially; even seasoned practitioners can learn new tricks of the trade. Thank You Keith & Chris.

by Jordan Hinton, Senior Microgrid Analyst, PowerSecure 09/06/2018

Very advanced course, but very powerful tool and environment for educating individuals that are serious about the renewable industry.

by Alex Khokhlov, Director/Co - Founder, Power Production Management, Inc. 04/06/2017

I highly recommend this course to anyone seriously looking into modeling or financing solar deals and EPC's alike. With a decade in the industry, and hundreds of solar projects on the ground, I still found lost of great material and go my "money's worth". I really enjoyed the instruction style and stayed motivated and interested throughout. Thank you Keith and Chris for this great course!

by Ernesto Grossmann, COFO, Golden Solar Electric, LLC 07/07/2016

Great course. Chris and Keith are top notched 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.

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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 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.

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.

Can I register multiple people?

Yes please visit our HeatSpring for Groups page to get a group discount.

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