Telephone companies, cable companies, video rental services, taxi cab drivers, hotel operators, auto manufacturers… These are just a few examples of businesses that have had to evolve with the times or risk going extinct. Why should utility providers be any different?
They’re not. But few of them seem to recognize that the time for them to look to their next chapter isn’t just coming – it’s here.
The news is packed with headlines about the precarious position traditional utility companies are in because of the threat posed by distributed generation. While rooftop solar provides less than 1 percent of the electricity in the US, the industry is growing so rapidly that utilities see the writing on the wall.
The Edison Electric Institute, a trade group for utility companies, has launched an aggressive campaign to slow the growth of distributed rooftop solar.
The west side is the best side of the roof for solar panels, according to new data analysis from Opower, which specializes in cloud-based software for the utility industry.
Opower released a detailed analysis this week of all its data on home energy use and solar panel orientation. Opower has information on more than 50 million households worldwide. Using that and public data on about 110,000 residential solar projects in California, Opower confirmed what another team of researchers found from a study of just 50 homes in Texas last year.
West-facing rooftop solar makes more sense than south-facing panels in our modern world.
While they generate 10 to 20 percent less electricity a year, they produce the most power when it’s most needed during the day.
The cost of solar panels has plummeted more than 70 percent since 2010 and the number of new installations is more than doubling every year for exponential growth in the solar industry. So, what’s the next step?
Research and analysis firm IHS Technology released a report last week comparing the current energy storage market to the solar photovoltaic environment in 2010.
The week of Nov. 10 was a big one for solar energy news. A climate deal between the US and China means demand for solar energy could grow even faster than it has been. The Navy signed a deal with SolarCity to install rooftop solar panels on 6,000 on-base housing units and the first solar road opened in the Netherlands.