Growth in the U.S. solar PV market is expected to remain flat in 2018, however solar installations could reach 2 million by year end (1.9 million currently). Even with sideways growth, the solar PV monitoring sector of the industry went through some major changes in 2018. Big brands consolidated, multiple new software offerings emerged, and energy management, including solar-plus-storage, became a headliner.
"Inverter integrated monitoring started to take traction in 2016, but in 2018 we noticed an increase in desire for inverter-agnostic options,” said Silvia Blumenschein-Schütz when asked about the trend in the solar PV monitoring market. “This may be due to solar monitoring no longer being just about tracking solar plant performance, but also managing the use of solar power.” Blumenschein-Schütz recently became the CEO of Solar Data Systems, Inc., the exclusive provider of Solar-Log® monitoring and energy management products in the Americas.
Managing the use of solar power is part of smart energy, including solar-plus-storage technology. Smart energy management means inverter-agnostic products like Solar-Log® can help reduce demand charges, skirt feed-in restrictions, and help plant owners increase self-sufficiency.
Future-proof was the buzz phrase of 2018. Even after the death of net-metering and performance-based incentives, solar will remain a worthwhile investment through the implementation of smart energy features. When plant owners can optimize consumption of self-produced power on site, they limit the amount of power being purchased from the grid. Solar-Log® is pleased to be leading smart energy development with forecast-based battery charging which controls battery charge and discharge. The time-frame for battery charging is based on the plant’s daily production forecast with the goal of having the battery charged 100% by sunset.
Blumenschein-Schütz was formerly the Global VP of Sales and Business Development for Solar-Log®. For 10 years, Blumenschein-Schütz has witnessed solar PV growth, saturation, stabilization and even decline in some markets around the world. When asked about the future of Solar-log® products in the U.S. market, Blumenschein-Schütz said, “There are a number of newly implemented state programs which will shape our product focus and development over the next 6-12 months. Among these are California’s Rule 21 and Massachusetts’ SMART program.”
According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, “incremental growth is expected to return in 2019 and beyond as tariffs decline, prices drop and developers accelerate build-out ahead of Investment Tax Credit declines. By 2021 there will be over 100 GW of solar installed in the U.S., with annual totals exceeding 14 GW by 2023.”
Based on projected growth and policy changes, Solar Data Systems, Inc. expects to see an increase in sales and market share in the U.S. in the coming year. Major product initiatives are on their way. Be on the lookout for increased battery storage integration, modular hardware so customers only pay for what they need, and a completely revamped WEB portal.