The word “solar” still gives venture capitalists heartburn. But a second generation of companies with new business models has risen from the ashes of the bankruptcies of a few years ago.
At the front of the pack is SolarCity, the $4.7 billion market leader in the race to install solar panels on homeowners’ rooftops. And unlike past companies, SolarCity makes its money by selling the power produced by the panels, and not just the panels themselves. The company, controlled by Elon Musk and his cousins, Lyndon and Pete Rive, now accounts for more than 30% of the residential solar-installation market.