In the Ask an Expert series, HeatSpring instructors and industry thought leaders answer a question on the minds of the HeatSpring community. This session, we are joined by Kerim Baran, instructor for the Solar Entrepreneurship course. He answers the question – what is the biggest opportunity for solar entrepreneurs? To check out their response, tune into the video or read the transcript below.

 Brian: What’s one area of the solar industry. That has been overlooked. It’s underserved. And you think it’s attractive for startups?

Kerim: O&M – operations and maintenance – of residential solar assets. You know, this is not a huge problem yet, but I think it’s going to become an increasingly bigger issue. Because as you might remember, starting about seven, eight years ago with Sunrun and, and Solar City and all of the, I’ll call them the Wall Street and, and silicon valley VC-funded, solar solutions, which, they were great for the industry because they really expanded the space very rapidly. Their solution, which was a lease-based product or PPA based product, which is third party owned was not necessarily the best thing economically for the homeowner, but it was easy to sell and good enough for the homeowners to buy into.

So their market share of these third party owned solutions went from like 20-30% to 80% from maybe, you know, eight, nine years ago until three, four years ago. But what’s also happened in the meantime is that homeowners have realized that it’s actually way more economical and much smarter to own the systems.

If they want to, just learn a little bit more about these systems. And, also on average in America houses change hands every seven years. And when that happens, that third party ownership usually gets folded into the house purchase. So the homeowners actually end up owning these things, even though they were initially sold as third party owned the solutions.

So I don’t know to what extent that will be a challenge for Sunrun’s business model, but the bigger question is what’s gonna happen. To the homeowners, when a third party is not responsible for owning and operating that asset, which is happening a lot. And so that I think will become a big opportunity [for entrepreneurs].