• solar PV
  • Renewables
  • Energy Storage
  • Utilities

Monitoring and Control Solutions Are Needed as the Solar Industry Evolves

Gemma La Guardia
Oct 05, 2021

Guidehouse Insights

Despite the global slowdown of the economy since 2020, renewables are having a good year in 2021. Around the world, leaders are pledging to ramp up efforts to increase renewables in their respective energy mixes to decarbonize the economy. For solar companies, this shift provides the opportunity for rapid expansion and favorable legislation, such as the renewal of tax credits offered in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. However, the electricity market remains competitive and solar projects need to maximize revenue to attract capital investment, even with increased government incentives.

One way to improve solar project economics is coupling projects with energy storage. This integration helps mitigate the intermittency of renewables and decouples solar power generation from when it is supplied. If solar projects can provide energy when dispatched instead of when the sun is shining, they can more securely enter into supply contracts or benefit from price arbitrage in wholesale markets. As a result, solar companies can maximize revenue and better optimize their generation assets.

Moreover, solar projects can be made more profitable through the use of monitoring and control technologies. As the market for solar monitoring and control technologies evolves, the solar industry will likely be able to adopt greater automation, machine learning, and smarter solutions. Furthermore, as hybrid solar and storage technology evolves, monitoring and control solutions will likely become more complex, increasing their value proposition. Overall, the solar industry is replacing labor-intensive processes with technology-based solutions by using monitoring and control solutions. 

Utilities Can Benefit from Monitoring and Control Solutions

Utilities have a key role to play in the adoption of monitoring and control solutions. They have the stability and funding to test new solutions and the opportunity to circumvent some of the resistance that smaller developers have in adopting these technologies. In the US, where utility companies have had their tax credits extended, it is not a question of if the widespread adoption of monitoring and control solutions will occur but when. Utility companies also can benefit from lessons learned in other sectors and apply them to solar. For example, Enel recently invested in monitoring software for its wind projects in Latin America.

As solar plus storage projects continue to gain traction, monitoring and control services will likely become more prevalent. Utility companies should invest in monitoring and control solutions because they can reduce the technological and operational risk for solar projects and help speed up adoption rates. Conversely, monitoring and control developers should ensure that they remain flexible and resilient to develop in tandem with the solar industry. To learn more about monitoring and control solutions in the solar industry, see Guidehouse Insights' Analyst Insight: Solar and Storage Monitoring and Control.