Securitization of residential solar photovoltaic assets: Costs, risks and uncertainty
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Limited access to low-cost financing is an impediment to high-velocity technological diffusion and high grid penetration of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. Securitization of solar assets provides a potential solution to this problem. This paper assesses the viability of solar asset-backed securities (ABS) as a lower cost financing mechanism and identifies policies that could facilitate implementation of securitization. First, traditional solar financing is examined to provide a baseline for cost comparisons. Next, the securitization process is modeled. The model enables identification of several junctures at which risk and uncertainty influence costs. Next, parameter values are assigned and used to generate cost estimates. Results show that, under reasonable assumptions, securitization of solar power purchase agreements (PPA) can significantly reduce project financing costs, suggesting that securitization is a viable mechanism for improving the financing of PV projects. The clear impediment to the successful launch of a solar ABS is measuring and understanding the riskiness of underlying assets. This study identifies three classes of policy intervention that lower the cost of ABS by reducing risk or by improving the measurement of risk: (i) standardization of contracts and the contracting process, (ii) improved access to contract and equipment performance data, and (iii) geographic diversification. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.