As the solar industry continues its growth -- with the U.S. installing 1 gigawatt of PV per month -- the performance of those solar rooftops and power plants needs to be monitored and analyzed.
The solar operations and maintenance business is growing and volatile. A few weeks ago, we saw Draker lose its footing, fail to complete a crucial merger and be forced to lay off much of its staff. Hopes of a white-knight savior for the company have not come to pass. Sources close to the deal suggest that Draker had a high cost structure and was being pressured by competitors such as Also Energy and Locus Energy.
And this week, Locus Energy became part of the Genscape group of companies. Genscape is a global provider of real-time data and intelligence for commodity and energy markets. The acquisition price was not disclosed.
Genscape's monitors, forecasts and analytic tools range across the oil, power, natural gas and LNG, agriculture, petrochemical and NGLs, maritime, and renewables sectors. Genscape recently invested in WellAware, a developer of software for oilfield production monitoring and optimization.
As such, it's a reasonable fit for Locus, which claims to have installed more than 80,000 systems across the residential, commercial, and utility sectors in North America. This is all in service of discovering the causes of a solar system’s performance issues.
Michael Herzig, president and founder of Locus Energy, was on a panel at a recent GTM event. He said, “We are starting to see an increased focus, not just on wanting analytics, but wanting to pay for analytics -- which is an important distinction. What’s driving this is that the stakes are high."
“Your basic monitoring system will tell you whether your system is up or down,” he said in an interview. “But this gets at the last 5 to 10 percent” of system inefficiencies. Back in the gold-rush days of solar, when installers were just putting up as many panels as possible, that wasn’t such a big deal. But now that solar is being aggregated, financed and securitized, it’s becoming a pressing issue, he said.
Locus has been one of the leading residential providers in the space, according to a recent report from GTM Research/SoliChamba Consulting. The firm is looking more toward growth in the C&I and utility market. Locus customers include Clean Power Finance, NRG Energy, Sungevity and Swinerton Renewable Energy.
“Energy monitoring is Genscape’s core business, so the synergy between our two companies couldn’t be better,” says Matthew Burkley, CEO of Genscape, in a release.