The emergence of solar software services for investors, project developers and consumers

Matchmaking services that serve solar power project developers, investors, businesses and consumers now make up a growing segment of the solar market. Mercatus, which uses its online portal to help investors find solar power projects, announced Monday it has closed a $2 million Series A round.

The Santa Clara startup, founded in 2009, has completed $250 million of projecting funding for its customers, said Haresh Patel, Mercatus’s CEO. The company works on commercial and utility projects, which average 3MW in size.

Mercatus, formerly called SCS Renewables, makes money by charging investors a monthly subscription fee of $10,000 to $25,000 for using its online service to screen potential projects. Investors also pay, on average, 1 percent of the value of the projects they end up funding. The company has eight customers, including independent power producers, utilities and corporate investors.

Mercatus’s software helps developers standardize how they present their projects to include the information that investors look for. It also gives each project a score to help investors evaluate it. I spoke to Patel and Todd Michaels at NRG Energy shortly after the company launched its service last year.

Since then, I’ve came across many companies with similar business models. Here are some that I’ve profiled:

1. Wiser Capital: The company is based in Santa Barbara and recently launched its online service to bring investors projects between 100KW to 1MW in size.

2. Mosaic: The Oakland startup matches projects located on businesses and schools with money, except it uses the kickstarter model by allowing both accredited investors and the general public to invest. You can become an investor by putting in as little as $25, though the average investment size is $1,000. Mosaic is keen on courting institutional and corporate investors.

3. EnergySage: The Massachusetts startup targets the residential market by matching installers and solar lease providers with homeowners. It makes money by charging the installers and financiers. The company got a U.S. Department of Energy grant to design an online portal that aims to make it easier for consumers to compare shop.

4. One Block Off the Grid: The San Francisco company is like EnergySage and has lined up potential customers for installers and lease providers such as SolarCity and Clean Power Finance. Residential projects are much smaller, so One Block Off the Grid and EnergySage both have to work on upping their volumes in order to generate respectable revenues.