Back in early 2008, Australian activist Danny Kennedy asked Cate Blanchett if she would be interested in investing in his new solar energy company Sungevity. The 41-year-old actress had long been passionate about the environment and clean energy initiatives and so put her name down as a primary backer.

Since then, Sungevity has experienced rapid growth; reporting a rise in its share of the California residential solar market from 0.4 percent to 2.9 percent in 2010. In addition, the company recently raised $15 million in a new round of financing to help fund an expansion of their services to the east coast.

What sets the company apart from others is how easy they make it for customers to get solar panels on their homes. It starts with the website, which gets the process rolling by asking for your address (if you live in a coverage state), and then automatically calculates the type of array you need and how much money you'll save.

Once you place your order, a pre-packaged solar array is sent to your home, and an installation crew is dispatched. In the meantime, a database keeps track of all the necessary permits, fills them out, and send them to you for a signature. Additionally, the installation crew is sent all the local regulations governing solar arrays.

But according to Reuters, the financial side became even easier this year thanks to banks working with companies like Sungevity to help with financing the purchases.

"US Bank created a $24 million tax equity fund for Sungevity to finance solar leases. That lets homeowners obtain a solar array for no money down and a monthly payment that can be offset by the savings on their electricity bill. For its part, US Bank gets to take a 30 percent federal investment tax credit on the installations."
Kennedy told the site that the company had signed one megawatt’s worth of solar leases in October alone.

Needless to say, investors are bullish on Sungevity; which is an encouraging sign for the renewable energy market. Way to back a winner, Ms. Blanchett!

Live in California, Colorado, or Arizona? Click here to give the service a try. Six other east coast are expected to come under the coverage umbrella next year.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Cate Blanchett's solar investment a winner
Sungevity set to expand to east coast of U.S. after new round of funding brings in $15 million.