The best solar + storage opportunities for most companies are on large commercial projects. That was my takeaway from a June 2nd call with Wes Kennedy, Joe Schwartz and David Brearley from SolarPro. The utility storage market is hot and happening right now, but the projects are difficult to access for most firms. Design and equipment selection on utility projects is usually a tight collaboration between the utility and the equipment manufacturers. The residential market is huge and exciting, but super competitive and the economics are still a stretch, in spite of all the Tesla press and financing innovations from SunEdison and others. That’s why commercial projects between 30w – 2MW represent the best short-term opportunity. It’s a fragmented market with a diverse customer base and no entrenched, dominant player because there’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter commercial storage project. They’re all different. “Large commercial projects are where most EPCs and big solar companies can play right now,” Joe summed up nicely. This was based on the extensive research David had been doing for his (predictably awesome) SolarPro article, “Distributed Energy Storage Systems“.
So the new SolarPro course, “Advanced Solar + Storage“, will focus primarily on commercial applications, with a nod to both utility and residential systems.
Opportunities in Utility and Residential Markets, too
I generally dislike saying one renewable energy technology or market is ‘better’ than another, because there are opportunities everywhere. Utility and residential energy storage markets are growing and it’s silly to say there’s no opportunity there for firms to get involved. This conversation is more about timing and priorities. Where are the biggest opportunities, right now, to win projects and help a company grow? Answering that question correctly is what sales and competition are all about.
This conference call happened because we (HeatSpring) started getting emails and calls about a course on megawatt-scale energy storage systems. That’s when I reached out to the smartest, most informed, most experienced people I could find. Enter Joe, David, and Wes. Here’s why I trust these guys:
I was introduced to Wes by Ryan Mayfield, probably the best solar instructor I’ve ever been around. Wes hired Ryan for his first job in solar, and was most recently the senior application engineer for SMA America’s Hybrid Energy Solutions group. In this position, project scope ranged from residential PV with battery backup to MW-scale stand-alone microgrids primarily in North America and the Caribbean. He has worked in the solar industry since 1996, when virtually all projects were battery-based. He began his career with pioneering solar companies Jade Mountain and Real Goods, cofounded Colorado EPC firm Namaste Solar, and managed the engineering staffs at groSolar and Abound Solar. His skill sets include engineering, design, training, education, installation, O&M, software modeling, sales, marketing and management. Kennedy currently resides in Boulder County, Colorado. Not surprisingly, Wes is interesting and humble, too.
I first met David at Solar Power International. He is the senior technical editor for PV at SolarPro magazine. His solar education began at the San Juan College Renewable Energy Program in Farmington, NM. Brearley became NABCEP certified in 2004. After working for a national distributor, he transitioned to commercial and residential PV system integration in Austin, TX. David has a quality that I’ve seen among all the great journalists I’ve met – he pays really close attention and has a great memory. I love having people like David in my life because you can trust them when they express their views on something.
Joe Schwartz is CEO of Home Power. He serves as publisher and editor of SolarPro magazine and executive editor of Home Power magazine. His editorial goal for the two publications is to provide industry-leading, hands-on technical coverage of renewable energy system design and installation in the North American marketplace. Schwartz worked as a systems integrator prior to entering technical publishing and holds a Limited Renewable Energy Technician license in the state of Oregon. Though I’ve only known Joe for a couple years, I can vouch for his integrity and commitment to the solar industry. He’s a straight shooter and that honesty is probably shy SolarPro has such a strong readership .
We’re giving away $200 discounts on “Advanced Solar + Storage” to the first thirty registrants. Click on the link to go get your discount code right now.