Distributed Generation [DG] continues to evolve in Ontario. We see progressive examples, in our marketplace, of multiple utility pilot projects that are underway.  These projects will combine rooftop solar technology, EV charging, & energy storage dispersed throughout the grid and all connected, managed, controlled and analyzed by a software-as-a-service [SaaS] platform.  The most recent example is with Veridian Connections’ announcement of a micro grid pilot project that will be commissioned in the first half of 2016.

PowerStream earlier announced plans to test a mico grid system involving rooftop solar, energy storage and a cloud based SaaS energy management system from Sunverge Energy Inc. This pilot will involve 20 residential locations dispersed throughout the service area an will “… enable participating customers to displace a significant portion of the electricity they source from the grid and better manage the electricity that they do use, resulting in reduced energy costs, lowered carbon footprint and improved efficiency.”

As the adoption of rooftop solar in the province continues to increase we will see the increase of related technologies that enhance the value proposition for consumers. This added value will include energy storage systems, EV charging, electric water heating and efficient HVAC solutions that are inherently more cost effective when coupled with storage solutions, such as the Ice Bear distributed storage system. Combine these enhancements with smart incentive programs such as SaveOnEnergy,  the CDM Program, lower equipment costs and hopefully a more balanced exchange rate and we will then likely find ourselves in a fairly competitive and sustainable growth market with many more end consumer opportunities.

With more client opportunities, the basic hotlist spreadsheet and off-the-shelf “serve-all” CRM program will become an ineffective way of managing client capture opportunities. Hence, DG SaaS will likely progress from operational monitoring, analyzing, controlling, and integrating renewable energy systems to a tool that spans the entire value chain and starts on the salesperson’s desk. A SaaS platform that can assist with prospecting, sizing, pricing, & ROI calculations will reduce client capture cost and the overall solar and energy storage solution cost “ ‘Soft costs,’ like permitting, financing and customer acquisition, now represent roughly two-thirds of installed costs of residential deployments” … writes Jake Saper of TechCrunch. “… the best way to address such soft costs is with software.” As a result, a group of promising SaaS providers are concentrating on solar and energy storage DG, as seen from the SaaS value chain below.

DG SaaS Value Chain - Source: Jake Saper, TechChrunch.com

DG SaaS Value Chain - Source: Jake Saper, TechChrunch.com

Companies like Sighten are including sales and prospecting functionality into their SaaS product workflow to help provide a more encompassing platform. “To date, solar companies and investors have had to navigate a patchwork of solutions or build in-house tools, creating inefficiencies, increasing costs, and holding back growth. By consolidating key functionality into a single platform, Sighten allows its customers to focus on what they do best and not worry about building or integrating software.”Venturebeat.com

The US residential and commercial solar saturation rates are expected to increase 50% by 2020, as a result of US legislators extending the solar incentive tax credit. Currently, US solar industry is increasing at a rate of 1GW/month of installed capacity. In Ontario, solar represents <1% of all installed capacity at 140MW. CanSIA forecasts that the Canadian market will increase installed capacity to 6300MW by 2020, representing 1% of all electrical generation in the country, with the majority located in Ontario. 

We look forward to the market growth and the inter-collaboration of SaaS and hardware solutions across the whole value chain, from lead generation to operating the assets.

–Mike Brady, Cofounder Frederick & Simon Inc.