Jonah Greenberger: Bringing Cheap Solar Power to the Developing Market

Jonah Greenberger, founder of Bright as well as an ex-director for renewable energy investments at Chevron, aims to bring affordable yet effective solar power to residential structures in developing markets starting with Mexico. Bright is an up-and-coming solar panel installation and distribution start-up, which was a Y Combinator firm as well.

Unlike many of its competitors, Bright does not implement projects based on the credit scores of their potential clients. Instead, Greenberger and his team use data analytics in quantifying risks in partnering with local installers.

Bright’s business model involves the free-of-charge installation of the solar panels in homes. The company then provides a subscription service for the homeowners akin to cable television services.

The installation costs are covered by private investors. The program participants/homeowners pay back the costs of installation over time (i.e., subscription) while enjoying the benefits of solar power, which are aplenty considering that Mexico has a generally sunny weather. The company skips on the building costs and hires Mexican contractors in the installation of ready-made panels, thus, driving down overall costs.

While Bright plans on bringing its business model to other developing countries, its main focus is on Mexico at present. Its focus is further justified by the expensive and complicated energy industry in the country with costs soaring upwards of US$450 per month for many businesses especially during the hot summer months (Mexican Federal Electric Commission).

According to Greenberger, solar power is the path forward particularly as a solution that does not require central control and distribution. He envisions a world where homeowners can be independent from a completely government-controlled energy solution. His goal is for installers to offer high-quality yet reasonably-priced rooftop solar panel installation without an upfront cost and then be able to replicate it a million times over.

With Bright’s investors like Felicis Ventures, First Round Capital, Max Levchin, and Patrick Collison putting their monetary muscle behind it, its future is indeed looking bright.

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