Takeaways from Intersolar 2015
Impressions and takeaways from Jon Sullivan, SunShare’s Director of Project Development
SunShare at Intersolar
Intersolar North America is an annual conference aimed at bringing solar industry professionals together to discuss technology, policy, financing, and other relevant trends in the solar industry. This year the conference was held in San Francisco at the Moscone Conference Center. There were hundreds of exhibitors on the expo floor ranging from module, inverter, and racking suppliers, EPC companies, political and educational organizations, and innovative new products. Besides being able to walk the expo floor and see the latest technology on display, there were also valuable educational seminars.
SunShare sent six members from our executive and finance team including Chief Development Officer, JW Postal, who was a presenter on a panel about residential finance solutions
Every seminar at the conference seemed to continually land on storage innovations, grid infrastructure, the federal ITC expiration, and big data.
The solar industry realizes that grid infrastructure and cost effective storage are two necessary technical hurdles to overcome before wide spread solar adoption will take place. As usual, California is leading the nation in both of these areas and thus representatives from California utilities, the CPUC, and California developers conducted seminars on the topic. Among battery technologies there is a race to see which company and which technology will prevail in providing cost-effective, reliable renewable energy storage. Representatives from lithium ion, flow battery, and conventional lead acid all made their cases. Regardless of which technology prevails it’s clear that costs are decreasing, deployment is increasing, and that the solar industry will soon be able to offer cost effective storage solutions in more and more markets.
The looming “ITC cliff” of December 31st, 2016 was another popular subject in formal finance seminars as well as after party conversations. The solar industry seems to be split into three camps: Optimists believe it should and will be extended, pragmatists think it would be wise to slowly step down the ITC from 30% to 20% to 10% over the course of several years, and a small minority of the industry believes it should expire so the industry is forced to cut costs, get lean, and survive without subsidies once and for all. Regardless of the exact point of view, the industry is beginning to lobby and galvanize around the issue.
Lastly, data, software, and information technology were popular subjects across a range of topics. Big data can be used for a more sophisticated and cost-saving approach to O&M. IT and software industry professionals are beginning to be engaged by solar companies rather than solar companies re-creating the wheel internally. The thrust was that engaging mature software and IT companies will catapult the efficiencies and knowledge base of the average solar company thus increasing the solar company’s effectiveness. Storage and grid infrastructure will no doubt be a popular subject for years to come.