Here’s a great article our research team found from SunPower Corporation on top 5 solar power trends. The commercial solar energy market is poised for continued growth over the next several years.

Forward-thinking organizations are taking a fresh look at their energy strategy as a way to control costs and manage their energy needs more effectively.

1) Smart Energy Is Here Companies are demanding smarter solutions not only to gain control over energy costs, but also to manage their overall energy use. Smart grid systems are enabling businesses to take advantage of peak shaving and demand response innovations.  The combination of cloud-based information systems plus storage can now enable smart, connected buildings that use and manage energy more efficiently than ever before. What it means:  Better information means greater visibility over your energy use and more control over your bottom line energy costs.

2) New Solar Financing Options Are Emerging Not long ago, solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) and leases were the hot new solar financial solutions to make solar more affordable.  Now, they are trusted financing tools.  As the solar industry continues to innovate and mature, new financing tools for solar projects are being actively developed. These tools include: Asset-Backed Securities (ABS), which provide investors reliable sources of income backed by solar electricity contracts, much like public utility bonds. YieldCos, which offer access to low-cost investor capital, and equity shares for safe, steady, and growing cash flows as dividends to shareholders. The emergence of ABS and YieldCos as capital sources reduces the cost of financing for solar energy assets and the clean green kilowatt hours they produce.  These are two of the many new ways for organizations to adopt money-saving energy technologies before the 2016 ITC (Investment Tax Credit) expires or is radically reduced. What it means:  New solar financing is available to make solar an even better investment for many companies.

3) Solar Is No Longer Tried To Your Roof Companies no longer need to have a rooftop solar system to reduce energy costs.  Solar carports, once an afterthought, have become a popular choice for many organizations.  GTM Research predicts total carport installation to reach 318 MW in 2016. Innovations such as virtual net metering have expanded the ways organizations can capture solar benefits.  Virtual net metering allows a customer to deploy solar at an offsite location and then credit that energy production to other locations. Offsite solar also benefits organizations that can tap into direct utility access partnerships.  Taking solar offsite is how leading companies can run 100% of their data centers on renewable energy.  It’s also one of the reasons why top researchers at Stanford University believe in a future that is 100% renewable. What it means:  Your business can go solar even if your site is space constrained and create an energy strategy that is 100% renewable.

4) Solar Is Simpler, Faster, and Easier Than Ever To Install Solar solutions are more modular and streamlined today, so installation is simplified.  The market has been innovating relentlessly and truly revolutionary approaches are making their debut. High performance systems with fewer parts and less variability provide higher operational efficiency and higher reliability.  This means you cut costs more and start saving faster.  Modular systems drastically cut down on installation costs and time minimizing business interruptions and potential downtime. What it means:  Companies can rapidly scale solar across multiple sites.  Total cost of energy goes down and customer satisfaction goes up.

5) Utilities Are Embracing Solar New utility offerings in community solar and green choice programs are giving organizations greater flexibility over their energy resources.  Several large utilities have created unique partnerships to deliver more choices in solar for more people.  In 2014, this resulted in over 4 GW of new solar PPAs signed, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research. These agreements superseded utility regulatory and legislative requirements, which in the past have been primary (and sometimes only) drivers of utility solar projects.  In other words, some utilities are embracing solar as a way to provide customers more options to reduce costs and achieve sustainability goals. In California, Pacific Gas and Electric connects a new solar customer to the grid about every 11 minutes.  According to a recent survey, 75% of utilities now offer or are planning to offer community solar programs to their customers removing roadblocks to increase solar adoption.  An a new NREL study shows that shared solar is opening a huge percentage of the market to businesses and homes that were previously not suitable for solar. What is means:  Forward thinking utilities are making it easier for businesses to go solar.

Source 2015 SunPower Corporation

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