Mortenson Construction conducted a survey of solar industry professionals at the recent Solar Power International 2011 event to help identify industry and construction trends. Among findings, the report found that 51 percent of the 250 professionals surveyed think that reducing foreign energy dependency is the most popular reason for the U.S. public to support renewable energy.
The potential of jobs creation was second with 30 percent of respondents considering it the biggest reason to support more renewable energy and 19 percent of respondents thinking reducing greenhouse gas resonated most with the public. That was just one of the questions people responded to in Mortenson’s first ever solar industry survey.
The company has surveyed other industries in the past including the wind industry, said Mortenson Manager of Market Intelligence Steve Pekela.
The survey examined what’s still challenging the industry, what promises it holds and how companies like Mortenson can best serve it.
“We are committed to understanding our customers' business so that we can work in an integrated and aligned fashion with both customers and partners and deliver construction solutions that best meet the business needs of those we serve,” Pakela said.
Among other findings, the survey asked which states were the most attractive for solar development in the U.S.
California, with one of the strongest renewable portfolio standards in the nation, was considered the best opportunity by 27 percent of respondents. Texas was considered the second best market with 15 percent of respondents saying it was the best opportunity. Third place was a four-way tie with Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Massachusetts, each considered best by 8 percent of respondents.
The expectations for Texas were not entirely surprising, according to Pakela.
“While it is true Texas is not a top state in terms of current installed solar capacity, the state has an impressive record of supporting renewable energy—and leads the nation in wind energy installations.” he said. “In fact, the thing holding back solar in Texas isn't so much an unfavorable environment for renewable energy, but competition from a thriving, successful wind market—which could easily translate into a vibrant solar market as well.”
The most important take away from the survey for construction companies like Mortenson was what influenced contractor decisions and how contractors can help projects developers and owners.
“Customers told us they want competitive prices, cost certainty and partners who can provide innovative options that maximize the success of their projects,” Pakela said.
The survey also found that the biggest challenges that utilities, project developers and power producers have faced on projects are interconnection issues and not enough personnel to manage projects.
Looking forward, the biggest challenges such companies as well as PV manufacturers and equipment suppliers foresee are price issues, followed by the loss of solar incentives.
Pictured: SolarTAC project in Alamosa, Colo., courtesy of Mortenson.