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When Americans stopped buying $40,000 solar panel systems, SunRun came up with a solution: Lease them.

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This story appears in the April 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The recession marked the beginning of dark times for the solar industry.

Research firms estimated more than $12 billion in lost revenues for 2009, and they couldn't have been far off: Frozen credit, fewer subsidies and massive layoffs ended an era of free-spending, green-loving, double-digit growth.

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