The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Video: Social Media and Web Innovations on the Rise for Solar Industry

During a trade show, it's a good sign when an exhibit has a big crowd. This year at Intersolar NA, a lot of these crowds formed to check out creative new applications or innovative online tools. Social media and other web platforms are growing industries that are taking business model innovation by storm – and the solar world has taken notice.

These innovations will often intertwine with social media and other web platforms to get off the ground or increase awareness. Watch the video above to see the latest innovations. “One of our goals with the Facebook app is the ability for installers to get more referrals...[we want to] stimulate discussion about solar in a broader community for more widely accepted adoptions,” said Tom Dinkel, CEO of SunReports.

Web platforms not only benefit the company, they can also benefit the consumer. “To be competitive in the years to come in this industry, we have to think of ourselves not just as a manufacturing company but as a solutions provider,” said Marcelo Gomez, marketing director at Unirac. Digital tools, such as iPhone apps that allow installers to view instructions digitally and provide virtual tools for installation, allow for faster return on investment because projects are completed faster, which lowers total cost of ownership for projects, according to Gomez.

Interact Through Participation

One of the big crowds at Intersolar was gathered around the Centrosolar America booth. Centrosolario, a video game in which users navigate levels to install solar panels on rooftops, was just released and visitors took notice. “Centrosolario shows you how to put together the CentroPack — a total, complete system for solar,” said Kelly Clonan, senior marketing manager at Centrosolar. The goal of the game is to complete the entire pack — the highest scores at Intersolar NA 2011 won $100. The game is now available for download and will soon be available for the iPhone. 

This competition kick-started Centrosolar's new social media initiative. Not only could visitors play Centrosolario to win at Intersolar NA, they could also take a photo with the on-site character himself and post it on Facebook. The more creative the photo, the better. “We're trying to get our branding out there. Not just for installers but for outside media and internal employees. We're starting to get traction; people are starting to network on LinkedIn,” said Clonan.

Cater to Customer Needs

Meanwhile, Unirac is using a different strategy by listening to its current and potential customers. “We visit [our customers] on-site and understand the woes of their job,” said Gomez. “There was a time I was out with the CEO visiting a particular site and it was a windy day. We started to notice that their installation instructions were blowing on and off the roof,” he said. That was the inspiration it needed.

Unirac recently released two iPhone applications: a U-clinometer for installers to verify angle and pitch on a roof and a QR-Code Reader to cut down on paper waste from installation manuals and brochures. QR-Codes are a simple image, like a barcode, that a smartphone user can scan to download necessary information. “We have had about 250 downloads of both applications on a weekly basis. These are great numbers. And we start to see increases as we market more,” said Gomez. Mobile visits have gone up 1,000 percent since Intersolar NA 2011, with more than 700 downloads that week alone.

Accelerate Awareness and Educate

SunReports is taking a more direct social media approach with a new Facebook application. It takes performance data from a customer's residential solar panels and posts it on Facebook. The app relays the information in easy-to-understand terminology so those unfamiliar with solar can interpret the benefits without confusion.

“Solar tends to be a bit invisible once it is installed...So we take performance data and energy equivalents...and share it on Facebook with the branding associated for the manufacturer and installer,” said Dinkel. The goal is to stimulate referrals for the manufacturer and discussion amongst the general public. “If you post it on Facebook, you might get your friends asking questions about, 'Oh, I didn't know you had solar. How’s that working?' That stimulates the dialogue and raises the awareness of solar for everyone,” said Dinkel.

The application translates the energy solar produces into several different equivalents, such as how far you drive in a car, carbon emissions, trees planted and more. “With Facebook, now you have a virtual connection — you might get clustering around circles of friends. If your experience was good with that installer, it's likely your friends will use the same one. That causes the rapid adoption of solar,” said Dinkel.

Untitled Document


Stolen Solar Panels and Sabotage A Challenge for Powering India With Renewable Energy

Anindya Upadhyay, Bloomberg Disappointment spread across Tarun Singh’s face when he saw that parts of his solar power microgrid in eastern India’...

States Already Seek To Delay Clean Power Plan

Andrew Harris, Bloomberg Fifteen states led by coal-rich West Virginia asked a federal court to stall Obama administration rules intended to c...

Suntech Parent Company Buys Majority Share of US-based Suniva

Ehren Goossens Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd., the Hong Kong-based solar company controlled by billionaire Zheng Jianming,...

Sunrise in Pakistan as the Country Delves into Solar PV

Robert Harker Pakistan has joined the list of countries that are exploring solar power as a means to bridge critical energy generat...


Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...

OFS Announces Commercial Availability of InvisiLight® MDU Optical Solution for Multiple Dwelling Units

OFS, a leading-edge designer, manufacturer and supplier of innovative fiber optic netwo...

New local energy partnership brings innovative solar tracker to Washington State

A new partnership will bring the innovative AllEarth Solar Tracker solar electric syste...

30 days to GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) has announced that it is only 30 days to go to t...


Washington, DC Bridges the Solar Gap

The District of Columbia has enjoyed 15 years of strong economic growth. But prosperity is spread unevenly across the...

Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program from

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospect that owns or manages a building with high ...


As associate editor of, I coordinate and edit feature stories, contributed articles, news stories, opinion pieces and blogs. I also research and write content for and REW magazine. I manage


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Intersolar North America 2016

Exhibition: July 12 - 14, 2016; Conference: July 11 - 13, 2016 Intersola...

Intersolar South America 2015

Exhibition and Conference: September 1-3, 2015 Intersolar South America ...

Intersolar Europe 2016

Exhibition: June 22-24, 2016; Conference: June 21-22, 2016 Intersolar Eu...


The Proof Is Not Always In The Pudding

One of the best ways to turn a skeptical prospect into a buyer is to giv...

Pushing Beyond The Cushion

Efficiency projects are all too often viewed as “optional” o...

Less Is More

When you’re giving a presentation, one of the easiest things to do...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now