New opportunities for rooftop solar: integrating with other verticals to spur deployment

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Rooftop solar can protect consumers from outages and high energy prices. Image: Solar Rights Alliance via Twitter.

As 2021 draws to a close, PV Tech is reviewing the year in solar, reflecting on some of the biggest stories and hottest trends of the last 12 months. One such trend of late has been the convergence of solar and other home services sectors in the US, with a number of notable acquisitions and partnerships announced that will see residential solar reach new heights.

One of the most interesting trends PV Tech has picked up on in recent months is how residential solar in the US is becoming increasingly integrated with other verticals. Businesses providing a range of home services are paying more attention to the benefits that solar can bring to their portfolios.

This has been illustrated by a number of recent acquisitions such as home security giant ADT buying Sunpro solar for US$825 million, Sunnova partnering up with security company Brinks Homes to cross sell its products and BayWa r.e. exploring the potential to team up with roofing company Beacon to offer solar and roofing services simultaneously.

All of this has happened in the last few months and could be indicative of a new way of operating within the residential solar sector. And it makes sense; teaming up with other companies that provide home services allows residential solar companies access to a whole new market of existing customers that trust their existing provider. It also expands geographical reach – as is the case with Beacon and BayWa r.e. – and is aligned with the drive for greater residential solar deployment across the US.

A bit of preliminary research from ADT prior to its acquisition of Sunpro showed that around 15% of their customers were interested in getting solar systems at home in the next year. Given its size, that’s almost one million customers who could be getting solar for their homes in 2022. Sunpro didn’t have the customer base, brand recognition or size to access a market on that scale, so the acquisition has allowed it to greatly expand its reach all in one step.

Similarly, BayWa r.e.’s potential partnership with Beacon could see it access thousands more customers, ‘cross-selling’ roofing and solar and rapidly expanding across a multitude of untapped markets in the US. Although its purchase of Beacon Solar was initially a straightforward acquisition of a solar distribution company, the potential to explore cooperation among verticals has been highlighted as a major benefit post-purchase.

Next year could see yet more integration of solar with other verticals given the potential colaborations – think interior design companies, architect firms, more roofing and security business, transport/distribution companies, the list goes on – as it is increasingly recognised as an attractive offering across other business sectors, especially those in the home improvement and renovation space.  

This also then links to another trend in the US – growing attachment rates for energy storage with rooftop solar. Now, PV combined with energy storage systems (ESS) is becoming more entrenched as a home improvement rather than simply being seen as a green product.

If you think about the number of adverse climatic events and notable grid outages in the US this year, then securing domestic energy generation and storage becomes an increasingly smart option for homeowners. Research has shown how homeowners that experienced power cuts in the last year are nearly four times more likely to have purchased a solar system, with a large majority also considering battery storage alongside. Federal and states incentives for rooftop solar and energy storage will only support this trend.

Partnerships and agreements between different companies in and outside of solar that can expedite rooftop solar deployment and home energy storage systems will protect homeowners from external shocks and outages, bring the US closer to its decarbonisation goals and grow businesses at the same time. While this isn’t going to get the same headlines as gigawatt-scale utility projects or vast corporate PPAs, it is a vital part of the green transition and will be celebrated in the industry, especially by those who have worked hard to make it happen.

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