Solar Builder

SEP-OCT 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 35 tually will apply specifically to solar and other renewable energy forms. "We wrote the technical standard for a data access platform for demand response as part of one working group," Roesler notes. "In Hawaii, 30 percent of daytime electrical generation is from distributed resources, but there is not much communication going on between the DERs and the utility. Over time, utilities will want to talk more." Since utilities can avoid the cost of new generation facilities by coordinating DER emergence on their grid, they can readily afford to spend many more dollars on more sophisticated software to perform the latter. Such software can be expensive when adapted by a single ven- dor for a unique utility need, but platform standards in solar data software are now emerging. UtilityAPI won a grant last year from DOE's SunShot program for a version of the company's proprietary soft- ware product that a utility could access by 2019. "Then utilities, munis, commercial aggregators and asset man- agers can acquire the software by licensing," Roesler says. The grant project is titled "Software for Automatic Utility Data Collection for Solar Proposals," which pro- vided the company with a $763,000 grant conditioned on an awardee cost share investment of $1.15 million, according to DOE. The smart home factor As energy management software migrates down from complex utility solutions to residential- and commercial- level tools, the opportunity for calculating real savings through the use of solar data is massive. "We are seeing a lot of traction in the home automation space, especially with smart thermostats," Kuo says. "Looking at a smart thermostat, a customer can get a monthly energy savings calculation, but that is not tied to the actual dollar amount of savings. We believe that smart thermostats will bridge that gap." While such standards are slow to emerge, companies like Urjanet and UtillityAPI independently contact users for data sharing permission, aggregate and clean the data, and often manage the utility-to-customer-to-developer interface. In the not-so-distant future, Urjanet will also take smart home calculus beyond electricity, to include gas, water and perhaps other utilities as the company has data from some 5,500 electric, gas and water utilities, primari- ly across North America. A home energy dashboard that could help a customer determine whether to use electrici- ty or gas for a given energy need at a specific time will save on household costs more holistically, Kuo says. Charles W. Thurston is a freelance writer covering solar energy from Northern California.

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