Community solar insight: This industry brief cuts through the collective confusion

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The U.S. Community solar is on a steep, upward trajectory and does not show any signs of slowing down. Community or shared solar offers an opportunity for customers also referred to as subscribers, who either cannot or simply do not want to install solar at their homes or businesses, to receive credits on their clean energy bill. These type of programs enable customers to either purchase solar energy or invest in solar assets who otherwise would not be able to due to inadequate roof space, lack of a strong credit score, not owning a home, etc.

Whether you are a developer, an owner of community solar projects, or even just a participant, there are a lot of benefits to engaging in such projects. Community solar enables access to solar for all. Businesses and homeowners can have equal access to the environmental and economic benefits of solar energy in a trouble-free manner, particularly for low-to-moderate income customers, which form a large portion of the US households.

Community solar business models continue to evolve to cater to the needs of both customers subscribers, utilities, etc. Identifying the optimal model and what it takes to succeed in this budding market can be challenging and at times confusing. This industry brief aims to cut through some of this confusion by providing a bird’s-eye view over the main existing models, drivers of success, as well as considerations for investors and asset owners.

Join the pre-eminent Solar Asset Management North America 2019 conference, taking place in the high-powered and ambitious city of San Francisco on March 26-27, to get all the insights to help you navigate through the complexities associated with community solar.

— Solar Builder magazine

Five takeaways from the Solar Installer Survey from EnergySage, NABCEP

solar installer survey

Results of the fourth annual Solar Installer Survey from EnergySage and NABCEP are now available. Here are the five takeaways that most stood out to us from the responses of 870 residential and commercial installers across the country.

● Consumers demand Tesla as storage installations rise: According to installers, more than one in three solar shoppers are also interested in a home battery, resulting in more solar-plus-storage installations in 2018. However, responses also illustrate a gap between consumer brand preference and what installers stock. While over 55% of installers reported that their customers specifically request Tesla battery solutions, only 12% of solar installers surveyed actually carry and quote the Tesla Powerwall.

● Installer confidence in the industry continues to rise: Nationwide, more than half of the installers surveyed indicated that they’ve grown more confident in the solar industry in the last twelve months. At the state level, installer confidence rebounded in New York and California as governors in those states pushed for 100% renewable futures.

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● Installers choose growth over margins: For the fourth straight year, a growing majority of installers (67%) stated that gaining market share is more important to their business than increasing the gross margins of each installation. When combined with the falling price of equipment, this finding signals the solar industry is likely on a path of increased competition.

● For the third year in a row, the top challenge reported in closing sales was confusion and lower consumer confidence created by competitors. Nearly half of all installers surveyed identified this as a major obstacle. Interestingly, customer hesitation created by utility and regulatory uncertainty leap-frogged the high cost of installation to become the second most common challenge in closing sales in 2018.

● In 2017, around ten percent of installers indicated that they planned to add energy storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging to their offerings in 2018. In fact, in 2018 the percentage of installers offering energy storage increased by 6% while the percentage offering EV charging products increased 8%, nearly achieving installer plans from 2017. This year, an additional 8% and 9% of installers say they will add EV charging and energy storage, respectively, to their new product offerings in 2019.

EnergySage fielded this survey between December 17th, 2018 and January 18th, 2019. Read the full report right here.


roof top reportDownload the new Residential Rooftop Report to heat up your solar sales

The Residential Rooftop Report for the first quarter of 2019 is now available for download. The theme is “Heating Up Sales,” and we’ve teamed up with report sponsor Aurora Solar to examine ways for residential solar installation companies to lower customer acquisition costs, close more leads and overall run a more streamlined, efficient local solar business. Just fill out the form below to access your free report.

— Solar Builder magazine