A Large Segment of North American Businesses Are Generating Their Own Electricity with Solar

Share Article

A surprisingly large portion of midsize and large businesses across the US and Canada have already installed solar electric panels, and this appears to be only the beginning of a much greater trend, according to the just-released E Source in-depth market research report “How Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Will Disrupt the Utility Industry: 2015 Quantitative Research Results on Business Customer Acquisition of Systems.”

E Source Logo

E Source

Those customers with already installed solar report higher satisfaction with their utility than non-solar customers. This defies the conventional trade press, which often cites utility dissatisfaction as a driver of defection from the grid.

A surprisingly large portion of midsize and large businesses across the US and Canada have already installed solar electric panels, and this appears to be only the beginning of a much greater trend, according to the just-released E Source in-depth market research report “How Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Will Disrupt the Utility Industry: 2015 Quantitative Research Results on Business Customer Acquisition of Systems.” More than one-third of businesses surveyed report having some on-site solar installed at their largest site, with two segments—retail and grocery—reporting the greatest market penetration. Nearly half of those solar adopters installed their first systems over five years ago, showing that this trend is not entirely new.

These insights come from primary E Source research conducted earlier this year on businesses’ current and future adoption of solar, key adoption drivers and barriers, preferred providers, and a wide variety of purchase criteria. E Source focused on energy decision-makers at businesses with 50 or more on-site employees across eight market segments: manufacturing, retail, grocery, restaurants, offices, healthcare, lodging, and government/schools.

“We were intrigued that such a large number of companies reported having solar. These large businesses shared substantial detail on their installation processes, their satisfaction with and involvement from their utility, their financial decision criteria, and their success with installation,” says Bill LeBlanc, E Source senior advisor and project director. “These early adopters show confidence in the technology itself, and we expect that peer communications will start swaying those that are lagging fairly rapidly in the coming years. In fact, 37 percent of solar adopters rely heavily on their peers for solar information, whereas non-adopters more often cite vendors, utilities, and the trade press for intelligence on solar.”

Solar interest has broad support across businesses: 83 percent say they’ve spent time considering solar options in the past 12 months and half of those spent a full day to more than a week studying solar. The greatest study times were seen in the government/education sector.

E Source was particularly interested in how business customers perceived their utility, both as a supplier of solar options and a supporter of third-party installations. According to LeBlanc, “Those customers with already installed solar report higher satisfaction with their utility than non-solar customers. This defies the conventional trade press, which often cites utility dissatisfaction as a driver of defection from the grid.” In addition, only 3 percent of businesses with solar considered their utility as having a negative attitude toward their installation, again countering conventional wisdom that utilities are seen as pushing back against solar.

“Our research provides critical information to utilities on how to create solar strategies for their business customers. We see strong evidence that utilities are generally well positioned to assist their business customers with solar, especially those utilities that have already built a relationship with customers through energy-efficiency, demand-response, and pricing programs,” says LeBlanc.

For more information about the results of the quantitative portion of the study, see an excerpt of How Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Will Disrupt the Utility Industry.

About E Source
For 26 years, E Source has been providing research, consulting, and market research to more than 300 utilities and their partners. This guidance helps our customers advance their efficiency programs, enhance customer relationships, and use energy more efficiently.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Kym Wootton
E Source
+1 303-345-9168
Email >
Visit website