Clean Power

Published on January 26th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Solar Innovation, Investment Shifting to Installation (Away from Solar Panels)

January 26th, 2012 by  

The focus of solar innovation and investment is shifting from panels to installation, according to a new Lux Research report, “Swimming Downstream: Evaluating Up-and-Coming Solar Installers and Developers.”

“A flurry of M&A activity and an influx of venture capital dollars to solar service providers have led to innovation concentrated on creating new, lean business models in an extremely fragmented downstream landscape,” a news release today noted.

“Downstream start-ups raised over $1 billion, with SolarCity, SunRun, Recurrent Energy, SunEdison and Solar Power Partners leading the way,” said Matthew Feinstein, Lux Research Analyst and lead author of the report. “Solyndra raised a billion all on its own, but these downstream start-ups will achieve what Solyndra could not – success,” added Feinstein.

You’ve probably noticed this gradual shift, if you’re a regular CleanTechnica reader, as we’ve been writing more and more about solar leasing and solar installation innovations.

According to Lux Research, the “leading players in the downstream market” today are as follows:

  • SolarCity dominates among residential installers. In the crowded residential installer/developer market, SolarCity is a standout performer – but can ill afford to be complacent as it expands in the northeast U.S. Many companies are partnering with SunRun, adding muscle to SolarCity’s biggest competitor. The Alteris-Real Goods Solar merger in December has added a stronger player to the market.
  • Commercial and utility-scale solar have few up-and-coming players. Tioga Energy and Enfinity lead the group of new large-scale developers. The acquisitions of Recurrent Energy, SunEdison, and Solar Power Partners led to concentration of large-scale development in the hands of larger companies or vertically-integrated suppliers First Solar and SunPower.
  • New entrants keep popping up on the back of venture dollars. A burst of entrepreneurial activity, driven by venture capital, is ensuring a steady stream of high-potential startups. In 2011, six solar installers were among Inc. Magazine’s top 50 fastest growing companies in the U.S., including Greenspring Energy, re2g, SunDurance Energy, OnForce Solar, and FLS Energy.

These innovators were identified as “the high-potential innovators” in the field, as opposed to “me-too” companies.

Source: Lux Research | Image: screenshot of SolarCity video

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Electric38

    It sounds like banks are becoming more willing to “rent” you the energy obtained from natural sunlight. Consumer owned solar allows freedom from several oppressive monopolies (especially banks, but utilities and oil too).
    How about they give a few points of interest on savings and checking accounts. Then consumers can purchase their own “free energy” production units.

  • This innovation is really a great one. This is the advantage for those who are planning to buy a property.

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