- Extensive business development experience in both utility-scale and distributed solar.
- Responsible for over 40 MW of solar development in the U.S.
- All 7 Best Practices
- Pre-Meeting Discovery Process
- One-on-One Call with Expert
- Meeting Summary Report
- Post-Meeting Engagement
Determining Feasibility Requirements for Solar/PV Project Development
Out in space, 93 million miles away from the earth, is a nuclear fusion reactor we call the sun. It creates a huge amount of energy and will continue to do so long after the human race has disappeared. Oil, coal and natural gas all took hundreds of millions of years to produce but, unlike our celestial fusion reactor, they are finite.
Wind and nuclear power also have grave limitations:
- Wind is an intermittent source. Current turbine equipment, while elegant in some people's perspective, is ungainly and unsightly to others. The NIMBY ("not in my backyard") factor is significant.
- Nuclear power is hazardous and expensive to produce. We still have not figured out how to properly dispose of the radioactive waste that reactors produce.
- How can we maximize the amount of electricity generated by solar panels?
- How can it be done cheaply and cost effectively?
Large retailers like Macy's and Walmart are also adopting solar as the public relations and marketing potential of "going green" multiplies, and as the consensus around climate change grows. Consumers are increasingly aware of what goes into the products and services they buy, from outrage over child labor abuses in the developing world to environmental issues around manufacturing in China. "Green" is no longer a box to check off, far down the list of priorities. It is an emerging driver of consumer preference.
The political will of the country and the globe will eventually turn toward sustainable, clean energy. Mandates will come down and companies will have to make a change. Large companies that begin to move toward solar have the chance to stay ahead of that curve and plan these investments to their best advantage.
The key driver remains price. Solar is still a more expensive option in many energy markets where prices vary greatly. The same electron costs far more in San Francisco than it does in West Virginia. In some markets, solar may represent a price break, but in the least expensive markets the economics do not yet add up. However, as the technology matures, solar panels promise to become much more efficient and take greater advantage of the radiation that reaches our planet from the sun.
Best practices for sustainability officers and other change agents who wish to take advantage of the emerging opportunities in solar include:
- Establish an internal evangelist to promote the use of renewables, manage internal expectations and keep initiatives on track.
- Sustainability officers and other change agents need to understand the environmental micro effects as well as the governing policy of each location they consider as a part of the renewable energy strategic plan.
- Know and be able to present to the financial community the risk profile of the asset and the warranties that this community requires for financing 20-year power purchase agreements.
- Conduct simulation research: Look at real cases in the marketplace and know the strengths and weaknesses in what others have done before.
- Convincing decision makers that solar is the best energy decision requires a combination of emotional and rational appeals: Keep both types of arrows in your quiver and know when to use one vs. the other.
- Solar adoption often entails a bidding process: Learn how to manage and win the RFP and bake-off process.
- The key is system costs, including the costs during the development phase; actively managing attorney fees is crucial for limiting runaway fees.