Sunrun is the USA’s #1 rooftop solar power installer in terms of how much solar power capacity it installs quarter after quarter. It just hit a massive milestone, installing its 700,000th rooftop solar power system. (Well, it’s a little unclear if it was the 700,000th rooftop solar power system, as Sunrun tweeted that it was the company’s “700,000th customer,” and some customers surely had solar systems installed on more than one roof — which would imply that Sunrun had already hit the 700,000 roof milestone previously, but now I’m being pedantic and ruining the mood.)
Earlier this quarter we welcomed Michael from Cathedral City, CA as our 700,000th customer! Michael was credited with one free year of #solar to help start his solar journey! Welcome to the @Sunrun family, Michael. pic.twitter.com/4wnrOh0h8f
— Sunrun (@Sunrun) June 27, 2022
Incidentally, this is also the 15 year anniversary of Sunrun’s entry into the solar market. It has installed more than 5 gigawatts (5,000 megawatts) in that time. The company has focused its efforts on a solar-as-a-service business model, which means it maintains ownership of most of the solar power systems it installs and leases them to customers (or, similarly, collects money through a PPA). Overall, with those 5 gigawatts (GW) of solar power installed, the company states that it is “the largest residential solar provider and the second largest owner of solar assets in the nation.” Once upon a time, SolarCity was the #1 residential solar installer in the United States, but since Tesla acquired it and rolled SolarCity’s operations into its own energy division (and changed a few things), that solar colossus has seen its sales decline while Sunrun has risen to the #1 position and held it firmly.
700,000 solar roofs don’t just mean a lot of solar energy collection and use — they also mean a ton of financial savings for customers and prevented emissions of CO2 and air pollution. “To date, Sunrun home energy systems have provided more than $800 million in energy cost savings to customers and generated 20 billion kilowatt-hours of clean energy, helping avoid approximately 11.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) — the equivalent of taking 2.4 million cars off the road for a year.” That last part is an interesting comparison especially when considering that Tesla is on the verge of reaching 3 million cumulative EV sales. That’s not the same as simply taking the same number of gas cars off the road (electric cars create some emissions as well), but the impact is comparable.
Sunrun, incidentally, popped onto the scene the same year that CleanTechnica was launched. Ed Fenster and Lynn Jurich co-founded the company in 2007, and then took it public 8 years later in 2015. Sunrun took another big step forward in 2020 when it acquired its largest competitor, Vivint Solar. Last year, after Jurich ran the company as CEO for 14 years and 8 months, Mary Powell took over as CEO.
“In 2007, we rewrote the definition of home energy in America, and we continue to rewrite that narrative each year as we unlock more ways for customers to electrify their homes and transportation,” said Lynn Jurich, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chair at Sunrun. “It’s truly amazing to see a business that was once a two-person operation in the attic of a San Francisco home scale into a diverse workforce of more than 11,000 and provide real, tangible benefits to millions across 5,000 cities in 22 states. We’re so proud of our legacy and even more excited about the next chapter in Sunrun’s journey.”
Sunrun × Ford
One of the comments in those quotes from Jurich walks us into one of Sunrun’s big new plays. As Jurich noted, they’re now working to electrify both homes and transportation. Sunrun has partnered with Ford to combine solarizing homes with electrifying their transport via the Ford F-150 Lighting.
With the Ford F-150 being the USA’s best selling passenger vehicle year after year after year after year, there’s an enormous potential here for solar-powered trucks to spread out across the country like fields of wheat and corn spread out the US Midwest.
In fact, with the F-150 being as popular as it is and electric powertrains being as competitive as they are, we could see an enormous number of solar-powered F-150 Lightnings appear in the future. The biggest limiter to growth may well be Ford’s ability to produce enough of them. At the beginning of 2022, due to high customer demand, Ford announced that it was increasing its annual F-150 Lightning production target from 80,000 to 150,000, but there could be far more than 150,000 Americans a year interested in buying an electric F-150 . The 150,000 production goal is a run rate targeted for the middle of 2013, per a response from a Ford representative to CleanTechnica.
We’re ramping up to a run rate of 150,000 per year by mid-2023.
— Emma Bergg (@ebergg) January 4, 2022
It’s not just about solar-powered electric transport either. The Ford F-150 Lightning has been designed in a special way. The first electric pickup truck on the US market adds an extra level of utilitarianism. It can also send electricity back into the home. In fact, it can power a home for about 3 days on a full battery. The Ford Intelligent Backup Power system has 9.6 kW of power capacity.
While many enthusiasts have been eager for vehicle-to-home or vehicle-to-grid technology for years, few EVs have included this capability. The Ford F-150 Lightning isn’t just one of them; Ford has partnered with Sunrun to make this capability extra useful. The Home Integration System hardware price to make Ford’s vehicle-to-home capability compatible with a home electricity network is priced at $3,895. Installation costs vary by location.
Solar Power + Electric Transport = Energy Independence
It’s an interesting time in the electric vehicle market. Electric vehicles are becoming much more commonplace, and more and more people across the political-cultural spectrum are becoming interested in electric options. From the F-150 Lightning to the Tesla Cybertruck, there are growing options for blue collar workers across rural America as well as in cities and suburbs (no matter where you are in the US, you can look around at a traffic light and see plenty of pickup trucks).
Rural Americans are especially drawn to the ideal of self-reliance, and the combo of solar power plus electric transport offers more energy self-reliance than they ever had at their fingertips before. Sunrun may have started in San Francisco, but it should spread out across the vast countryside of the United States of America alongside Ford and have plenty more Americans to help in the months and years to come. Could Ford and Sunrun sell 700,000 Americans on the dream of a solar-powered F-150 pickup truck? Certainly! I expect it. The only question is how long that will take.
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