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Sunrun Receives SunShot $1.6M For Fully Automated Solar Design System

Sunrun is one of America’s leading home solar companies, and on Tuesday it was announced that the company had been awarded $1.6 million from the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative fund. The money is targeted towards furthering the development and implementation of the solar industry’s first “end-to-end workflow automation system.”

I was contacted by one of Sunrun’s diligent press agents with the news, and had to read the whole press release before I finally got an idea of just what an ‘end-to-end workflow automation system’ is, let alone what it does. According to the email I received, “Sunrun’s platform will dramatically streamline the design, workflow, processing, pricing, and project management of home solar projects.” It wasn’t until I got halfway down the press release itself that I worked out just what it was Sunrun was pushing.

The first stage of the platform which is similar to “the platform that allows FedEx to deliver millions of packages daily” is the development of an “automatic design generation tool called Lightmile.”

“Sunrun saw an opportunity to create a standardized solar platform and has the technical expertise to do for the solar industry what AutoCAD did for design automation,” said Billy Hinners, VP of Technology at Sunrun. “Historically the solar industry has followed conventional construction practices, but with Lightmile and our end-to-end workflow automation system, we’re able to marry solar with high technology for greater efficiency.”

Hinners previously served as Senior Director of AutoCAD at Autodesk, and it was Hinners who led the design, development, testing, and publication teams that created and maintained Autodesk’s flagship AutoCAD programs. However, following his tenure at Autodesk, Hinner created Lightmile with Gary Wayne, former Vice President of Business Development at PowerLight and Senior Director of Strategic Projects at SunPower, and the creator of the solar industry’s first design automation system.

Lightmile, a cloud-based solar project design tool, allows users to create optimized designs interactively and without specialized training. The system generates shade analysis, energy simulations, bills-of-material, system costs, proposals and contracts. Unlike existing tools in the industry, Lightmile automatically generates engineered and optimized designs continuously throughout the development cycle in response to changing conditions.

“We’re honored that the DOE’s SunShot Initiative chose Sunrun as an award recipient through its highly competitive selection process,” said Lynn Jurich, co-founder and co-CEO of Sunrun. “The SunShot Initiative has been a catalyst in creating many of the solar industry’s most successful innovations. We believe our platform will be an industry standard helping accelerate the adoption of home solar by millions of Americans.”

Sunrun has regularly been in the news for similar industrial achievements, always striving to make clean energy more available to more people. They were last in the news on CleanTechnica back in September when they teamed up with Nest;

Nest, everyone’s favourite internet-darling smart-thermostat company is teaming up with US-based provider of residential solar electricity, Sunrun, to provide consumers the chance to “produce inexpensive, clean solar power and then manage it effectively.”


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