This week, the Cleantech Group released its latest annual Cleantech 100 report, the 2013 list of the world’s most influential and most promising companies in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries shines a bright light on current trends — and it’s not looking good for solar.
In this year’s list, only six solar-focused firms made the cut — down from 20 in 2011 and nine in 2012. The companies that made the list make it clear that the hardware side of solar innovation has been seen as widely static, while companies that focus on funding and financing for rooftop solar panels are the most promising.
Although 18 countries made the overall Cleantech 100 list, the six solar companies are all from the United States. Here they are, with short descriptions provided by The Guardian:
- Clean Power Finance: Financial services and software provider for the distributed solar industry
- GlassPoint Solar: Manufacturer of solar steam generators for the oil and gas industry
- Mosaic: Organizer of community solar financing projects
- SolarEdge: Provider of distributed DC systems that maximize power generation of residential and large-scale photovoltaic solar sites
- Sungevity: Developer of financing-focused solar systems targeting the residential rooftop market
- Sunrun: Developer of solar systems that engage customers through PPAs to eliminate the cost barrier to residential solar adoption
Note that most of these companies work to spread solar through financing, rather than companies that are making innovative new hardware technologies to expand solar’s reach or efficiency. Considering that soft costs make up the bulk of a new rooftop solar installation, any efforts to make it more affordable and easier for homeowners to embrace solar are critically important.
Writing in The Guardia, Ucilia Wang notes what these solar-as-a-service companies have in common:
What these four solar companies also have in common is their focus on the rooftop solar market, which has grown steadily thanks largely to government policies and incentives. In the US, the rooftop solar market, in which solar energy systems produce power for use onsite or for export into the grid, is set to grow from 1,353 megawatts in 2012 to 3,552 MW in 2017, according to GTM Research.
It’s also striking to note that all six solar firms on the Cleantech 100 are based in California — another reason that it’s so important that the Golden State continues to embrace smart solar policies.
For the full Cleantech 100 list, visit Cleantech.com.