In the eighth round of funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative Incubator Program, Sun Number has been awarded approximately $1 million to expand the geographic coverage of its rooftop solar assessment services. The award will also enable Sun Number to expand the scope of its services by providing additional data that solar contractors will use to grow their businesses and lower customer acquisition costs.
“It is a great honor to be one of the recipients of these SunShot awards, and it validates all the work we have done to date to launch the service in select markets. With this new award, we will be able to launch the service to even more markets and make it even more useful for solar providers and the public,” said David Herrmann, co-founder of Sun Number. “Our service makes it possible for solar providers and property owners to get instant analyses of rooftop solar potential using a simple-to-use website. This service dramatically lowers the cost of rooftop analyses and customer acquisition for solar companies, and it’s a free, fun tool that motivates the public explore the solar potential of their home or commercial building.”
This SunShot Incubator 8 award will enable Sun Number to expand geographically by launching the service in additional markets across the country that make it available to over 30 million properties. The award will also enable Sun Number to expand the functionality of its service for solar providers, including the addition of new data about rooftop characteristics, additional information about potential customers, and much more.
Herrmann added: “Sun Number is committed to providing the solar industry with the information needed to make a quick assessment of the solar potential of a building for a fraction of the cost of they are currently paying. One new feature of the Sun Number data is the ability to accurately determine the solar suitable planes of a roof, including the square footage, aspect, orientation, and amount of sunlight that each plane receives.”
Today it is estimated that a typical solar contractor company spends up to 0.50 cents per watt on customer acquisition. Much of this expense is spent on properties with poor solar potential, or on estimating the solar suitable square footage of a building using outdated and inaccurate tools. Sun Number data is accurate, includes the impact of shading, and vastly reduces the cost of qualifying a property.
Sun Number is also adding building owner data into its qualification database to make it a powerful business development tool for solar providers. Part of the SunShot Incubator 8 funding will include working on a project with partners to identifying behaviors that indicate a high likelihood that a home owner will be interested in purchasing PV. Another dataset that we are incorporating will determine the probability that the owner of a building will qualify for a solar lease or solar loan. All of the new qualification data will be made available to the industry via the development of a web based tool that supports the ability for users to create their own custom reports. Sun Number’s Herrmann adds: “To really impact the cost of customer acquisition, we must move beyond qualifying the solar potential of buildings to also identifying property owners that are going to be interested in solar. That is the key to growing the market for solar energy solutions.”
For the consumer, Sun Number Scores will now include the economic suitability of a property for solar. Integrating the suitability of the roof for solar with the local cost of electricity, incentives, tax benefits, and the local cost of installation, the Sun Number Score will tell a homeowner if the economics of solar make sense for their building. The new Sun Number Score will be dynamic and as the variables mentioned above change, so will the score. Homeowners with a low score today will be able to set a threshold for the future and get notified when their Sun Number Score reaches that threshold.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, DOE supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at http://www.energy.gov/sunshot.
— Solar Builder magazine