In India, the total solar installed capacity stood at a mere 460 MW in 2011 and now it is estimated to cross 10 GW by 2016 end – a stupendous 85% compounded annual growth rate.
In U.S. solar installers hit a milestone of 1 GW per year in 2010. Five years later, they’re installing more than 1 GW per month.
It is no-brainer that the future of solar, especially the distributed power generation is indeed bright.
As this industry grows, so does the need for software to improve efficiency and lower costs. “Soft costs,” like permitting, financing and customer acquisition, now represent roughly two-thirds of installed costs of solar deployments in distributed generation. According to this author, the best way to address such soft costs is with software. But right now, software adoption in the solar sector is very low apart from the monitoring softwares.
As an example, the manner in which solar developers identify, track and quote potential customers today is decades behind other industries. The leading solar players today use a “spit and glue” combination of Salesforce, homegrown code and Excel. It’s not shocking, therefore, that SolarCity’s customer acquisition costs have actually increased year over year, while installation costs have plummeted.
Other industries have solved this problem with software tailored to the specific needs of industry users. For instance, there are several specific CRM suites for Pharma, financial institutions etc.
The good news is that a lot of folks are working to build this type of industry cloud application. The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Catalyst program is funding a slew of early stage solar software companies. Powerhouse, a solar-focused accelerator, is incubating still more.
Here is a very nice representation of growing solar software start-ups in various domains, like mentioned in this article:
According to the author, the total potential market size for the distributed generation solar software companies is $1 billion! Here is the estimate:
This definitely is going to be a fast growth area within Solar. Don’t be surprised if you notice ten start-ups a month coming up in this new niche!