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Solar Energy Business Opportunities on the Rise in 7 Ways

Solar business models unlock value of solar energy with solar financing packages, high performance and energy efficiency strategies.

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With solar electricity generating more than one terawatt-hour (one billion kilowatt hours) of electricity in the United States in 2010 and continuing to expand rapidly, the key question is, "How can companies best capture value as the industry grows?", said Michael Rogol, global PV analyst and CEO of Boston-based PHOTON Consulting.

Solar opportunities in installation, financing and related services

"The U.S. solar power sector is very profitable, but value is migrating from companies that manufacture toward companies that provide installation, financing and other services. As profit migrates, solar companies and utilities have at least seven models to capture value," said Rogol, during his presentation at the 2010 Solar Terawatt-hours Conference Series  in San Francisco.

Models to capture value in solar energy

  • Solar equipment and software engineering and manufacturing
  • Related equipment manufacturing such as sensors, monitors and regulators
  • Installation and maintenance of installed systems
  • Regulatory auditing - zoning, codes, renewable credits, etc .
  • Renewable Energy Credits
  • Equity investment opportunities
  • Sales, marketing and outreach about solar energy
  • Research, management and strategic consulting services
  • Financing of solar systems (residential, commercial and generation)

Value Creation with Solar Energy

Strong value creation, including being low cost suppliers, agile traders, value-added service providers, system developers and bundlers of solar power with other technologies. For traditional electricity companies, the biggest challenge, Rogol noted, is to adjust their traditional businesses to create value from solar electricity.

Rogol showed how lower module prices are enabling swift growth in the North American solar market and how, as this occurs, profit within the sector is shifting downstream. The key to success, according to Rogol, is a strong, profitable business model capable of "unlocking value." He provided several key examples of strategies for strong value creation, including being

  • low-cost suppliers,
  • agile traders,
  • value-added service providers,
  • system developers and
  • bundlers of solar power with other technologies.

For traditional electricity companies, the biggest challenge, he noted, is to adjust their traditional businesses to create value from solar electricity.

Solar consultants model company, geographic and industry projections from the outside-in, cross checking company announcements with providers and buyers. Photon PV data consists of historical and five-year forward projections for price, volume, revenue, cost, operating profit, operating margin and demand for c-Si and thin film technologies.

"This is not the dot-com boom with easy access to capital. Alternative energy companies need to build profitable businesses largely on their own. To do this requires detailed understanding of changing solar power market dynamics and how the electricity sector is evolving across North America," said Rogol.

Electricity is becoming the energy source of choice for a greener economy because it is possible to generate and transport electricity without the greenhouse gas residuals of petroleum and coal based generation feedstocks.

To support companies as they assess strategic moves in solar power, PHOTON Consulting publishes three in-depth business research reports each year focused on

  • company risks,
  • market risks and
  • sector risks.

PHOTON Consulting's research reports provide solar companies at every step of the supply chain with the tools to make fact-based decisions in terms of price, volume and strategy. 

PHOTON Consulting is the largest dedicated solar energy research consultancy and is a leading supplier of in-depth research, management and strategic consulting services specific to the PV sector. With the deepest, broadest integrated coverage, PHOTON Consulting tracks the solar energy sector from feedstock to factory gate to end customer in every active and emerging market.

PHOTON Consulting is a robust source for research and analysis in solar power based on extensive research and data in the sector. For more information on PHOTON Consulting, visit the Company's website: http://www.photonconsulting.com.


Edited by Carolyn Allen, Managing Editor of Solutions For Green

Publication Date: 2/4/2010
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