Clean Energy Startups Power US Solar Energy Market As Solar Panel Installations Climb

Clean Energy Startups Power US Solar Energy Market As Solar Panel Installations Climb

Investors are flocking to the solar energy sector for good reason. Since 2010, solar energy companies have tapped into nearly $39 billion in U.S. subsidies. A recent report released by Duke University details how North Carolina ranks fourth in the U.S. for solar energy capacity. The report's lead author, Lukas Brun, Duke’s Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (CGGC), estimates that solar companies contribute 4,300 jobs to the North Carolina workforce and $2 billion in investments throughout the state.

North Carolina is not the only state where solar is finally starting to grow. The 2014 top ten performers in order of solar output are Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and North Carolina.

Increased investments in residential solar are driven by the drop in new panel technology costs by as much as 70% since 2010. The lowered fixed costs allow solar companies to compete on price with traditional electricity providers.

Dive deep into the solar energy market with DataFox's Solar Energy Public List.

Rise of Residential and Commercial Solar Installations

The lowered cost of panel technology costs has tricked down to solar installations and integrations for residential and commercial purposes.

FLS Energy, located in Asheville, NC is a market leader in both residential and commercial solar applications. FLS Energy specializes in offering turnkey solutions from design and installation to financing. FLS Energy also provides commercial scale solar farm construction and distribution networks. With a focus on adaptable solar energy solutions, FLS Energy provides services and investment management to some of the largest US financial institutions.

In the fall of 2014, FLS Energy started construction of 21 megawatt large-scale solar farm project spanning four locations in Guilford County, N.C. The project is estimated to deliver nearly 32 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year generating enough energy to power over 3200 homes.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association's 2014 Q3 Solar Market Insights Report, installations of commercial and solar panels are forecasted to climb in 2015:

Solar Edge merges solar power technology with customized installation techniques for new construction, as well as retrofitting existing residential and commercial applications. As an end-to-end distributor of photovoltaic (PV) panels, Solar Edge advises national installers on economical methods for installations to provide up to a 25% faster ROI.

SolarEdge and FLS Energy are two market leaders in the development of new advancements in low-cost installation technologies. Additionally, both companies have cornered the market by converting solar energy from each rooftop panel, instead of through a collective array of panels by using newly designed next-generation inverters.

SolarEdge filed for an initial public offering in February 2015 with a target valuation between $100 and $125 million. Solar Edge had raised close to $85 million in multiple rounds from multiple investors, including Norwest Venture Partners, Opus Capital Venture Partners, Walden International, Genesis Partners, Vertex Venture Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, ORR Partners, JP Asia Capital Partners and General Electric’s GE Energy Financial Services.

Other leading panel and solar integration include Verengo Solar, Vivint Home, Sunrun, SunPower, and OneRoof Energy. For years solar designs harnessed energy by using centralized inverters which limited how much power could be condensed into storage grids. However, with new technology allowing providers to collect and convert energy through next-generation inverters, the market will likely see increased benefits from economies of scale improvements.

Check out what Elon Musk had to say about renewable energy in our DataFox Video Notes: Elon Musk.

The Power Is In The Solar Panel

New advancements in solar panel development is the number one profitability driver. For decades, the industry struggled implementing cost-effective production. And until recently, few companies owned the technology to offer low-cost panels.

Siva Power, formerly Solexant, has cracked the code on manufacturing thin film photovoltaic systems by developing one of the solar market's lowest-cost and efficient solar cell systems. Siva Power produces flexible nano films which allow providers to collect solar energy more efficiently. Unlike some competitors, Siva Power has not relied on government subsidies for funding.

Solexel is developing more robust solar cells. Based in San Francisco, Solexel makes ultra-thin silicon cells. Instead of relying on large-scale collection panels, Solexel uses arrays of cell technology that monitor output and pinpoint cells underperforming to streamline efficiency. Solexel raised

Solexel raised $25 million in senior debt financing in January 2015. The financing will go toward completing Solexel's production facility in Milpitas, CA.

Thin is in for both Solexel and Siva Power. Both report their business models are driven by cutting costs while increasing solar collection and energy output through manufacturing highly refined energy-producing cells.

Other solar companies investing in thin-film PV technology include First Solar and Dunmore, which manufacture razor-thin semiconductor materials. These materials are as thin as a couple millionths of a meter (microns). The benefit of thin film PV is it reduces the raw materials needed to manufacture PV energy collection systems.

Thin-film PV solar modules employ a very thin layer of semiconductor—usually just a couple of millionths of a meter (microns) thick—in place of a traditional silicon wafer construction process. Thin film PV offers many advantages over other technologies, including a low consumption of raw materials, highly automated and efficient manufacturing process, low carbon and water footprint, fast energy payback time, easy building integration and improved appearance, better performance under high temperatures, and reduced sensitivity to overheating Throughout the solar cell industry, much debate has surrounded this sector with advancements in cell construction to improve shelf life. Solexel has retooled its manufacturing process to include the use of wiring diodes, which track each cell's performance.

Dive deep into the solar energy market with DataFox's Solar Energy Public List.

Peter David Gustafson has been writing for the media industry for more than 20 years. His approach is to pinpoint highly relevant trends in the marketing and financial industries. With a background in market analysis, his research is designed to bring new story ideas that will impact your life.