RenewableEnergyWorld asked solar executives and our social media community to lend their voices and define what three strategies they think will lead to a thriving solar industry. Answers were varied, and many valid opinions were brought to light. Responses will be updated here daily, and feel free to look at previous insights by clicking on the page links below.
We encourage you to lend your own voice to the discussion in the comments: What would YOU do?
The U.S. is expected to be one of the largest growth markets for solar power in the next 5 years. What key strategies should the solar industry adopt to ensure that these projections are met?
Nat Kreamer, CEO – Clean Power Finance
1) Open access to robust finance offerings for both installers and homeowners
Residential solar financing is among the fastest growing categories in the solar industry, and actually makes the most sense during an economic recession. Solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) and leases create an easy and low cost way to go solar. In the first quarter of 2011, PPAs/leases accounted for more than a third of all residential solar sales in California and Colorado, according to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Improving access to residential solar financing for both installers and homeowners has the potential to promote job creation at installer firms, save consumers significant money on increasingly expensive electricity bills, and encourage long-term clean energy adoption.
2) Drive down customer acquisition and transaction costs
In addition to making solar affordable for average homeowners, one of the key prerequisites for a robust solar economy is empowering solar system installers. We need to get installers working on more projects by making their jobs faster, simpler, and consequently, less expensive—driving down the costs associated with acquiring and processing new customers. Currently, installers face a dauntingly complex and time-consuming process of acquiring, vetting, processing and closing customer deals. A simple and cost-effective solution is to streamline this confusing system, using software and online databases like Clean Power Finance’s CPF Tools platform.
3) Reduce installations times (buy it today get it tomorrow goal)
As with all industries, time-to-market and time-to-delivery are critical success factors. Today, permitting distributed solar projects is complicated, time-consuming and costly for American solar installers. Clean Power Finance is the first example of an open-source software tool and database to accelerate solar permitting and drive down compliance costs. The U.S. government also appreciates the importance of streamlining the solar installation process: Clean Power Finance recently received a $3 million grant to fund the development of its database and software. Such online tools increase transparency and streamline the permitting process with municipal building departments, saving valuable time, eliminating paper and allow installers to plan jobs more efficiently.
Nat Kreamer is the CEO of Clean Power Finance. Nat was a co-founder, President and COO of SunRun, and President of Acro Energy Technologies. Nat is an officer in the US Navy (Reserves) and an Afghanistan war veteran; he served in the Special Forces and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. He has a BS from Northwestern University and an MBA from Rice University.
Check back tomorrow for more strategies.