Rooftop solar finance company Brighte is set to take on the major energy market incumbents, announcing it had received a $100 million investment injection to fund the company’s expansion, including from Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar
Brighte said on Thursdayt that it would be using the funds to develop an integrated rooftop solar and electricity retailing solution, seeing the company create a new ‘gen-tailer’ model where rooftop solar, rather than large-scale power stations, are integrated as part of the.
“From day one we have had a deliberate and clear strategy of focusing on the industry verticals we know best – residential solar, batteries and home improvements,” Brighte founder and CEO Katherine McConnell said.
“Our strong market position and deep understanding means we offer a superior customer experience and have a clear competitive advantage.
“What we have achieved in four years is just the beginning. This is a $45 billion per annum addressable market opportunity (of which $3 billion is solar, battery and FCAS) and there is significant room for more growth.”
Bright currently offers a number of financial products to help households purchase of rooftop systems, undertake energy efficiency measures and other home improvements, with the zero or loan interest loans designed to enable households to use savings on electricity costs to pay off the loan.
The ‘buy now pay later’ model had attracted the addition of the ACCC, which instigated an investigation into the emerging use of the financing arrangements as part of rooftop solar sales tactics.
The ACCC had responded to some concerns that households were agreeing to take on additional debt to buy a solar system, and the investigation culminated in the creation of a ‘New Energy Tech Consumer Code’ to provide greater protection around the use of the financial products.
Brighte said that the new investment would allow the company to develop and launch new energy products to Australian customers, including a new ‘gen-tailer’ model, where the installation of rooftop solar is a standard part of the relationship between customers and their electricity provider.
“We are particularly excited about the opportunity in front of us in the energy sector,” McConnell said. “In the future Australian households will change the way they consume energy with a greater focus on owning residential generation and storage assets.
“In 2021 Brighte will launch a new gen-tailing model where our customers own the energy assets and pay Brighte back over time, Brighte will be their energy retailer and also help our customers realise revenue from their solar and batteries. It will be the simplest way for a solar household to pay for energy.”
“This allows us to help our customers in three ways – access to the most affordable energy solutions, maximise their energy revenue and cover the gap between their energy generation and consumption. It leverages our deep expertise in payments and dominant market position in household energy to significantly simplify the customer relationship.”
“To enable this Brighte has submitted a retail energy license application,” McConnell added.
The company has raised $100 million to fund its expansion into the rooftop solar and electricity retailer markets, with the investment round led by Grok Ventures, the investment vehicle for Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes.
Cannon-Brookes has made a number of substantial investments in the Australian clean energy market, including as a led investor in the massive Sun Cable plan to export renewable energy from Australia to Singapore. Cannon-Brookes recently challenged BP on its own investment record in clean energy technologies, telling the Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit he believed he was personally investing more than the global energy giant.
Other participants in the investment round include Mike Cannon-Brooke’s co-founder at Atlassian, Scott Farquhar, who invested via his own investment fund, Skip Capital. Farquhar, who founded Skip Capital with his partner, Kim Jackson, were existing shareholders in Brighte. Airtree Ventures and Singapore venture capital firm Qualgro also upped their stakes in the company.
Brighte was advised by Stuart Dullard of Ashurst with Grok Ventures was advised by Peter Dunne of Herbert Smith Freehills.
Since its founding in 2015, Brighte has raised equity totalling $145 million and has raised debt totalling $500 million, partially through Australia’s first 100% Green ABS Bond issuance in October 2020.