Solar energy is predicted to dominate the future. But how do we get there? And how quickly can we make it happen?
Last month, the Neurio team was down in Arizona for the Solar Summit 2019 put on by Greentech Media (GTM) and the S3 Solar Software Summit put on by GTM and Folsom Labs.
The GTM Solar Summit is a two-day conference that gathers hundreds of attendees from the solar industry to talk about the future of solar. The S3 Solar Software Summit is a newer one-day event that focuses on the growing solar software industry.
We were thrilled to join in on the discussion around the growth, challenges, and potential of the solar industry.
Here are some key themes that stood out to our team:
Adoption of the Future
As federal subsidies start to phase down, the solar industry aims to outgrow the subsidies and accelerate adoption into the mainstream.
The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a federal tax rebate in the US that covers up to 30% of residential solar systems, making it one of the major financial incentives for US households to install solar. But the government plans to decrease the ITC over the coming years and for residential, it is projected to be phased out completely by 2022.
So an ever-present question during the summit became: How can the solar industry move past these subsidies? Right now, solar has less than 3% adoption in the US with 15% being the goal for mainstream adoption. The phase-down challenges that adoption alongside existing concerns like slow-moving utility regulations, limited financial security, and difficulties with newer solutions like community solar.
But the overall tone of the conferences was optimistic. Solar is growing at a record rate and the cost of installation is continuing to fall. The first million solar installations in the US took decades, while the second million only took three years. According to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, the number of installs is projected to double in the next five years. As the industry establishes itself, external factors, like confidence from financial institutions, are also improving.
As the industry looks ahead to decreasing ITCs, the customer becomes even more important.
Solar systems introduce a new level of complexity to people’s homes, which can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Installing systems like home energy monitoring can help address that.
Home energy monitoring gives the homeowner confidence that the technology they invested in is working and making a tangible difference. Making energy consumption easier to understand is a key way to encourage people to adopt more complex systems, like solar, into their homes.
Software also has a key role in customer experience. Facilitating transparency before, during, and after the solar installation builds a crucial trust between the installer, the system, and the customer.
Importance of Software
Software in solar is still in its early stages, but its potential is powerful.
While the hardware in solar has taken centre stage, software is catching up. These programs have the potential to enable more growth, more clarity, and better control and operations of the systems. From a customer standpoint, it can unlock more savings, decrease complexity, and facilitate an easier adoption to solar.
Software is especially important in relation to energy storage. At the Solar Software Summit, one of the senior directors at Sunrun pointed out that when it comes to energy storage, metering is all important. Homeowners need accurate, real-time information to monitor and control their battery. As storage becomes a bigger part of the solar industry, building the software around it will be crucial.
As the industry matures, we are excited to see how companies like ours can make a difference in the energy industry and help homeowners make meaningful decisions about their energy.
Want to learn more about how Neurio is helping homeowners and installers understand and adopt solar energy? Reach out today, and someone on our team would be happy to chat.