We know that commercial and utility-scale solar installations are ringing up impressive numbers of megawatts. These vast solar power plants are bringing significant clean energy into the grid. But, it’s the door-to-door systems that are taking solar local, as rooftop residential systems are reaching new highs, adding more solar customers and constituents to the rolls.
The expectation is that 2016 will be a roller coaster ride for solar and clean energy markets. This is certainly not a novel occurrence. Each past year can easily be tagged as one with its ups and downs. Recent events give us cause for optimism but with caution.
It might be the case of too much information. With so much confusion and multiple search stops along the way, a hiring agent without a detective badge and a Fedora might understandably walk away from the credential discovery process before finding details that would clearly clarify the competency of a potential hire.
When spring finally settled on New England earlier this year, I joined friends in a round of beer from a local micro-brewery. The pale ale with citrus and malt undertones was delicious and promised hints of summer. When the dog days of August hit, I devoured a honey-lavender ice cream cone at a local micro-creamery. Another gourmet delectable from a micro enterprise. Back at my desk, I follow the progress that micro grids have realized building resilient electric power infrastructures with clean energy distributed resources.
I still find pulling out a yellow legal pad along with a few sharp pencils productive as a way of jotting down notes, ideas and doodles. Tis the season to do so as we start at the top of a new year. My top yellow pad one liner – it looks like 2015 will be the time for new models – refers to new policy, technical and operational ones. Things could be shaken up or at least stirred. Let me bring you into a conversation the IREC team had just a few weeks ago.
Fall is when IREC releases its annual report, Trends Shaping Our Clean Energy Future. These 35 pages are not just a litany of our activities but dig into deeper reasoning of what we’ve done over the past 12 months; why it’s important; who we’ve touched; and where it leads. Do take a look. From both our national workforce and regulatory experience, here are six trends we see heading into 2015.
IREC premieres our new industry-targeted video this week in Las Vegas at Solar Power International (SPI), Accelerate Your Success: Quality is quiet. Mistakes are not. With thanks to ACT Foundation funding, through the National Network of Business and Industry Associations, the film clearly traces why credible credentials count and reduce costly mistakes. You’ll see we employed a bit of cartoon humor to bring home the message that “the best new technology is only as good as the workmanship around it.”
I’ve been asked quite a few times about the National Network of Business and Industry Associations. IREC was invited to join the National Network a year ago and I just got back from Austin where it celebrated its first-year anniversary. A few facts. This National Network goes way beyond the clean energy industry as many major business sectors participate – manufacturing, retail, healthcare, energy, construction, hospitality, transportation and information technology sectors.
Trying to fit today’s realities into an old mold doesn’t work for the electric grid business. There is a need to understand and act upon a changing marketplace, as new technologies, grid and bottom-line benefits of distributed resources, and customer participation and expectations are prompting shifting tides. The solar industry can’t ride on past ways when market penetration is climbing, bumping into business models and rate designs. Pillar policies need to be looked at with a critical eye. That doesn’t mean throwing them out, but it does mean a collective, rational review can hopefully accommodate a transformational market.