The expansion of renewable energy sources is essential if we are to combat the climate crisis. The fact that we are still so reliant on fossil fuels - and given the current geopolitical environment especially gas - to heat and power our homes and buildings, is frustrating, when considering that there are abundant, reliable alternative sources of energy. Heating and powering our homes and buildings alone amounts to 17.5% of all global CO2 emissions in 2016.
The deployment of solar energy in particular can play a crucial role in keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. And one of the smartest ways to deploy solar energy and its benefits at the scale we have seen so far is the Swedish company SunRoof.
The need for more solar panels
Solar panels are one of the lowest-cost and most accessible sources of renewable electricity across the world. Bloomberg predicted last year that global solar capacity installations will need to grow by 30% to keep up with demand, calling it ‘staggering’. In Europe, legislation was proposed as part of the Green Deal to mandate solar panels installed on all new public and private office buildings from 2026, which will be extended to new homes by the end of 2029.
Yet many businesses are unable to keep up with demand, due to a lack of skilled installation specialists, whilst supply chain constraints are also holding back the industry from growing. It is especially difficult to install solar roof panels where they are needed the most - on older buildings - whilst the cost can be prohibitive for many customers.
It is a complex problem and one that desperately needs solving. SunRoof has an elegant, tech-led solution to transform this industry and save megatonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
Sunroof’s mission statement
“Our underlying objective is to replace all roofs with SunRoofs that will produce enough electricity for people around the globe, ensuring a future where we can thrive together with nature.”
Founded by the two brothers Lech Kaniuk (CEO) and Karol Kaniuk, SunRoof is revolutionising the capture and use of renewable energy. Instead of adding photovoltaic panels to roofs, it installs 2-in-1 solar roofs and innovative facades that generate electricity without the use of traditional PV modules. And SunRoof’s design-led roofs are the most powerful building-integrated solar roofs on the market.
Buildings and homeowners also get access to an end-to-end management system and energy storage, as well as complete oversight of their energy production and consumption via SunRoof’s energy app. By combining this innovative technology with market-leading energy data logging software, SunRoof is on track to build the largest and smartest network of connected solar homes in the world. In the future, the company plans to become a global energy marketplace and virtual power plant - enabling customers to sell surplus energy back to the grid either for other customers and companies to use or for energy providers to deploy elsewhere, as needed.
We believe SunRoof will save more than 100 megatonnes of CO2 emissions by 2040 - what we term Climate Performance Potential (CPP). In fact, our analysis shows the company should smash through this target and transform the BIPV market globally, which is why we were delighted to back SunRoof in its latest funding round.
Tackling the solar energy industry’s bottlenecks
SunRoof’s solar roofs, per square metre, are the most productive in the world. This is in part thanks to its impressive power curve which is more effective than traditional PV panels which are placed to produce most power during one peak time of the day. It is also able to keep costs lower by using fewer resources and materials than traditional roof and PV installations, and its focus on aesthetics pleases and delights customers.
Whilst the industry itself is grappling with growth, SunRoof has expanded its operations from Sweden and Poland to Germany, with plans to scale up further. It is tackling the problems seen across the industry in a few ways.
First, it is building its own end-to-end software platform that covers the whole journey - from customer orders to operations and delivery. Utilizing this, SunRoof will create predictive models that can anticipate demand and ensure it always has the right stock at the right time. This tool will be fully launched in early 2023. This platform in particular will improve efficiencies and enable SunRoof to scale more effectively across its markets, as well as enable its expansion. And secondly, its technology is unique in that it does not rely on PV installers to install its roofs; instead, it is a similar process to installing a normal roof so it can train working roofers in its markets and provide additional skills to them.
Soaring ahead of traditional solar
We have backed SunRoof as part of the company’s growth round - closed at €28.5 million to drive expansion plans across Europe and into the US. We believe SunRoof is going to become the global leader in building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), whilst its future potential as a virtual power plant will help it to reduce the share of fossil-fuel-generated electricity needed to power homes and buildings across the world. Its unique roof panels and technology will enable it to soar ahead of traditional solar panels and create a new category of home energy generation.
World Fund General Partner Tim Schumacher will join SunRoof’s board of directors, whilst Investment Associate Victoria McIvor will be an observer. We agree with when he says: “Solar panels are one of the most effective tools we have to pioneer a regenerative future and combat the climate crisis yet there is still a lot of reticence from prospective customers, not to mention the supply chain challenges and installation crisis which are holding back the industry. SunRoof’s solution is the kind of thinking we need to tackle the climate crisis and prevent megatonnes of CO2e from entering the atmosphere.”
We look forward to working closely with Lech and the team as they scale SunRoof across Europe and beyond.