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How Connecticut Uses Data Intelligence to Increase Solar Growth

Residential Solar

The residential solar market is booming, with over 400 megawatts (MW) added in Q1 2015 alone. One of the major leaders in the space is Connecticut, which is considered one of the top ten states for solar power. 

While many people associate residential solar with sunny climates, market conditions such as available capital and state incentives have helped propel Connecticut into a leading role in the solar space. During the week of October 12, 2015, it was reported that, by the end of 2015, the Connecticut Green Bank, a quasi-public company that leverages public and private funds to accelerate the development of green energy, will have approved over 100 megawatts of residential solar in the state of Connecticut.

What differentiates Connecticut from other national leaders is that Connecticut’s residential solar growth can largely be attributed to the use of analytics and software tools. Since 2008, each new solar asset in the state of Connecticut has been required to use Locus Energy’s cutting edge technology, which reduces the risk associated with installing solar and ensures a higher return on investment for both the consumer and the owner. It is challenging to know whether a solar asset is performing to its full potential, but Locus Energy developed a solution to this pressing problem.

Virtual Irradiance (VI), one of Locus Energy’s proprietary analytics tools, addresses those concerns by identifying systems that are underperforming. The tool is used to determine whether the issue is sporadic or systemic by comparing the predicted production – based on the amount of sunlight hitting the ground – versus the actual production. Using this tool enables consumers to get the most out of their solar systems and to solve issues in a timely, efficient way. Standardization on this platform has ensured a homogenous quality across all systems installed since 2008 and provides exceptional service for all consumers because it supports a proactive approach to maintenance.

Using the monthly performance report, the Connecticut Green Bank can determine if systems are performing on par with monthly kilowatt hour (kWh) expectations. If a system performs below monthly expectations, and it isn’t related to a weather event, the bank can use the data to request operations and maintenance (O&M) assistance from installers, who can go on the field and resolve issues in a targeted way.

In addition to O&M, VI is also used as validation for incentive payments and solar renewable energy credit (SREC) generation. The information is also useful for financiers, as it can be used to justify why fewer SRECs were generated in a given time period.

Over 15,000 homes have solar in Connecticut to date. The state has made a commitment to propel solar to the mainstream by adopting analytics and ensuring the highest quality of projects. Connecticut has made a significant step towards solar. Which state will be next?

Locus Energy’s Virtual Irradiance (VI) tool provides real-time insight into solar irradiance using proprietary algorithms, avoiding the cost of on-site sensors. The analytics provided in VI help improve solar fleet performance data accuracy with modeled estimates of irradiance using satellite imagery. Click here to learn more or request an expert consultation for Virtual Irradiance.