Tesla's Former Energy Product Chief Is Now A Rival Thanks To $300M Funding Round

Zinger Key Points
  • The former head of Tesla Energy left in 2020. Here's what he's been up to.
  • Lunar Energy could be competing directly with Tesla's Powerwall and now has Sunrun, Honda and SK Group among its investors.

Kunal Girotra, the former head of energy products at Tesla Inc. TSLA, has launched a new company to take on the electric vehicle manufacturer and one of its products.

What Happened: Lunar Energy raised a total of $300 million from Sunrun RUN, a residential solar and battery storage provider, and SK Group, a South Korea supplier of cells for batteries.

According to Axios, Sunrun and SK Group each invested $150 million in the startup.

Lunar is also backed by ITOCHU and Honda Motor Company HMC. The two companies invested in Moixa, which Lunar acquired.

Moixa’s GridShare software is used to manage thousands of batteries in Europe and Japan. The software is used by over 35,000 homes in Japan and helps support Honda’s electric vehicle efforts.

“More than ever, we need rapid adoption of renewable energy solutions across all sectors to mitigate climate change," Girotra said. "Lunar Energy was founded to build affordable hardware and software products for the residential sector to help homeowners generate, store and consumer 100% clean energy and remove the usage of fossil fuels from every home."

The company’s first product is a next-generation home battery system, which Girotra calls the first step towards a mission to electrify all homes and connect communities with virtual power plants. The product is expected to be available later this year.

Sunrun co-founder and co-executive chair Lynn Jurich, who is listed as the chair of Lunar, praised the startup's vision and mission.

"I’m always looking for those rare opportunities where you can invest in exceptional people with a big vision,” Jurich said. “I’m excited to see Sunrun, and the industry at large, begin offering Lunar Energy solutions to millions of homes across the nation.”

Related Link: Tesla's New Virtual Power Plant Will Pay Powerwall Owners To Help End Brownouts, Lift Energy Capacity 

Why It’s Important: The funding rounds are expected to help the acquisition of Moixa, hire great talent and invest in product development and manufacturing.

Lunar can help homeowners with the ability to generate, store and control their own clean energy and also share it with local communities, making them “active members of the energy economy.”

Girotra, who spent five years at Tesla, led the company's energy products division, which included Powerwall, solar panels and solar roofs. He was named head of Tesla Energy in 2018.

With Lunar, Girotra could now find himself in direct competition with Tesla and its Powerwall product.

Benzinga's Take: Sunrun happens to be a certified installer and partner on Tesla’s Powerwall energy solution for homes. It could be interesting to see what the company does after investing in Lunar.

While Sunrun is a partner to both Tesla and Lunar, it has more of a stake in Lunar. The firm was also reportedly having trouble getting supplies from Tesla.

Storing energy for the home and having backup energy continues to be a big story for companies like Tesla and generator company Generac Holdings GNRC. During times of emergency and power outages, generators and home energy products connected to the grid are used to help those in need.

Tesla partnered with utility company Pacific Gas & Electric Co PCG to launch a virtual power plant that pays owners of Powerwall for energy. The virtual power plant is helping areas like California during brownouts.

Lunar Energy could be the next company to offer energy storage solutions for homes that could pay homeowners for their service.
Pictured: Kunal Girotra

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Posted In: NewsEntrepreneurshipStartupsGeneralbrownoutsclean energyclean energy stocksItochuKunal GirotraLunar EnergyPowerwallTesla Powerwallvirtual power plant
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