New E Source Research Shows Big Opportunities and Barriers for Solar in Business Sector

Although individuals and companies have been leveraging distributed generation for decades, solar electric systems seem to be igniting a whole new level of interest among large and midsize businesses.

Boulder, CO April 06, 2015


Although individuals and companies have been leveraging distributed generation for decades, solar electric systems seem to be igniting a whole new level of interest among large and midsize businesses. To explore the potential effect of distributed generation, especially solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, on utilities, E Source has launched the multi-phase study How Photovoltaic Systems and Distributed Generation Will Disrupt the Utility Industry. The qualitative report portion of the study has just been released.

Through extensive discussions with energy decision-makers, E Source discovered that many businesses anticipate that they will be installing a PV system over the coming years and decades. Though they're aware of and appreciate the environmental and sustainability benefits of distributed generation, the primary driver is budgetary. They believe that PV costs will continue to drop, allowing new systems to meet financial investment thresholds.

"Businesses seem to have a very different impression of PV systems versus the more tried-and-true gas-fueled options," says E Source project director Bill LeBlanc. "The inherent simplicity of solar and the lack of on-site emissions and noise appear to be the key distinctions."

Researchers also uncovered several barriers to PV adoption. According to LeBlanc, "The actual structure of the offerings to businesses will make a huge difference in the adoption of PV systems. The most-cited barriers included concerns about technologies, interaction with utility rate structures, leasing terms, and physical placement of the systems. These are all addressable issues, but it's not clear how vendors or utilities will be able to put the whole package together."

Many businesses voiced a desire to have the utility or vendor proactively creating proposals that make sense for a given customer's situation—a service that, in most cases, isn't being provided now.

To read an excerpt from the qualitative report that presents the two primary drivers of PV adoption, visit http://pages.esource.com/pvdg-excerpt.

E Source is now fielding the quantitative phase of this multi-client study. Specific information such as investment criteria for distributed generation, the role of sustainability goals in adoption, the effects of energy storage and reliability on decisions, preferred implementation vendors, and the factors that will drive market penetration will be gathered in eight key market segments.

Because of demand for local oversampling, E Source is reopening participation in the study. New partners may join before June 1, allowing them to learn more about the customers in their service territories. Details can be found at http://www.esource.com/market-research/pv-dg.

About E Source
For 26 years, E Source has been providing research, consulting, and market research to over 300 utilities and DSM Solution Providers. This guidance helps our customers advance their efficiency programs, enhance customer relationships, and use energy more efficiently.

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