Over the last decade or so, many IT products and services have transitioned to "as-a-service" models. This terminology generally denotes that these solutions are cloud-based.
The idea is that instead of an expensive upfront purchase that yields perpetual ownership of an application, server, etc., the customer pays smaller amounts over a longer period of time to maintain access to its cloud equivalent. Popular implementations of this concept include Software-as-a-Service (SaaS; for example, Microsoft Office 365), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (e.g., Amazon Web Services) and even Games-as-a-Service (i.e., inexpensive or free console video games, customizable through optional microtransactions and downloadable content).
Energy-as-a-service: Making solar power production and upkeep smarter
What do these new business models have to do with solar energy? Trailblazing solar power services companies, including Trina Solar, have updated their product lines to take advantage of many of the same technical and operational advantages of solutions like SaaS:
- For starters, the solar provider oversees all components of the solution, from the initial selection of inverters to the ongoing replacement of parts and maintenance of equipment. This setup is similar to how SaaS vendors take care of the underlying security and updating of their applications, freeing the customer from having to juggle multiple providers or do it themselves. Users buy into a continuous service, instead of a one-off product
- On a more technical level, the use of edge computing enables a "smart" energy solution, with constant environmental adaptations for improved efficiency. Edge computing pushes the bulk of CPU processing out to infrastructure in the field, rather than concentrating it in a central location, resulting in better performance of monitoring systems. At the same time, there are connections between the edge and cloud-based operation and management platforms for continual optimization.
The resulting combination of technologies and services is often called Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS). Under an ideal implementation, EaaS can deliver cost-effective solar power that's easy to scale and manage, primarily because – like the best SaaS – it's all overseen by the same provider.
Demand for EaaS is growing. According to a Navigant Research report, the global market for it could top $221 billion by 2026. Navigant's outlook highlighted the importance of turnkey solutions that integrate a wide variety of services from one vendor, including infrastructure strategy, program and asset management and energy supply. These offerings simplify the process of finding the best possible modules, inverters and solar tracking systems for each project, as well as ease the navigation of applicable laws and regulations pertaining to practices such as net metering.
EaaS as a progression of solar PV solutions
Solar PV solutions have come a long way over the past few decades, with improvements in panel designs, materials and layouts driving a dramatic expansion in installed capacity. A study from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) found there were more than 10 gigawatts of new capacity added in the U.S. in 2017. SEIA also estimated a doubling of total capacity over the next five years.
With EaaS coming to the fire, both utility-scale and commercial solar projects should indeed see a substantial boost. All-in-one solutions such as TrinaPro synthesize everything needed for a modern solar installation, from the modules to the assistance with technical upgrades and troubleshooting, into an intuitive platform with a sole point of contact. If you are assessing options for the next phase of your solar intiatives, be sure to contact our team to learn more about how TrinaPro can help you streamline your efforts