Leading solar panel manufacturer SunPower has invested $20 million into software firm Tendril. Tendril specializes in energy management software — specifically, in analytics, control capabilities, and communications. Tendril is located in Boulder, Colorado, and has about seventy employees. It was founded in 2004 by Tim Enwall.

For some time, it was doing very well and had 200 employees, but volatility in the market and changes in government funding left it in a predicament.

Eventually, it decided to drop the hardware side of its business and focus on software. This pivot turned out to be the right course correction and the company rebounded.

The fact that a solar power leader like SunPower would invest $20 million into Tendril indicates that there is a lot of value present. In fact, SunPower has gone on to acquire SolarBridge, a solar hardware startup it had invested in — maybe such a fate is in store for Tendril down the road.

SunPower may or may not acquire Tendril, but it is noteworthy that a fast-growing solar power leader is valuing the cloud-based software enough to invest heavily.

Tendril’s energy management platform will be licensed by SunPower to offer customers new ways to work with their solar power systems. SunPower customers will see new opportunities for managing energy in their portal.

Smart energy are the two words used to describe systems that can indicate to homeowners when to use appliances to optimize energy efficiency and save money. For example, such a system can tell you if a home solar system is operating at the highest capacity and it would be a good time to charge an electric vehicle.

The SunPower and Tendril partnership has been forming over the last eighteen months, so it did not spring up overnight.

“Consumers want even more flexibility to tailor their energy supply and usage to fit their lifestyles, beliefs, and financial goals,” explained Tom Werner SunPower president and CEO.

Smart energy homes, solar power, and electric vehicles — they seem to be the path we are on now. The companies that are leading us into a cleantech future deserve credit for the risks they are taking.