The residential third-party ownership model for solar, which began in the U.S. is continuing to gain international attraction. Most recently U.S.-based SunPower announced that it’s partnered with Australia’s Community First Credit Union to offer the SunPower Solar Loan in Australia.
"The Australian residential solar market has developed a need for innovative financing solutions like the SunPower Solar Loan offered by Community First," said SunPower President and CEO Tom Werner. "By combining SunPower's leading solar technology with Community First's financial expertise, we're offering customers in Australia the world's most efficient solar power systems with no upfront system costs and significant energy savings over time."
The program will allow the credit union to finance the loan and offer the solar array to homeowners with no up-front costs. The loans have a 10-year repayment period, less than most TPO options in the U.S., which typically carry a repayment period of 20 to 25 years. The loans will cover systems up to AU$35,000 and are not limited to Community First customers.
On an introductory basis the loans for qualified homeowners will start at 6.99 percent per annum through Dec. 31. And for the first five years will have a fixed rate of 7.49 percent per annum. After that they will return to the variable rate. “In many cases, a system sized to closely match the homeowner's energy needs is expected to generate savings in excess of monthly loan payments,” SunPower said.
"The SunPower Solar Loan option is a cost-effective way for homeowners to install the most efficient and reliable solar power systems available, and start saving on their energy bills today," said Community First Chief Executive Officer John Tancevski. "We are happy to offer a longer than usual loan term with the SunPower Solar Loan because SunPower panels are guaranteed to produce more electricity than any others on the market for 25 years, generating greater long-term savings for our customers."
While SunPower is building some of the largest PV projects in the world, it’s also been focussing on residential and commercial solar installations. It has been offering residential solar loans in the U.S. since 2009 and more recently started offering other TPO options in the U.S. In doing so it joined other leading TPO companies like SolarCity and Sungevity in making such offerings. In Australia there are not as many options for homeowners to get a solar array on their home through a power-purchase agreement or solar loan with little to no up front costs as in the US.