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Strategy recommendations for solar industry executives:

A transition from market followers to market makers

July 2016

 

 

Consumer Awareness - Direct Marketing “Co-opetition”

 

Several noteworthy associations and not-for-profit organisations are busy educating policy makers and the public about the multiple benefits of renewable energy.  The historical emphasis has been on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  But public misconceptions persist about what solar PV, among other renewable energy sources, can and cannot do - these misconceptions need to be addressed by PV companies themselves through direct advertising in the mainstream media: print, web, and tv broadcasting.  For example:

 

Is solar PV still too expensive?  In an unsubsidised and unleveraged project cost comparision, PV is already cheaper in lifecycle $/kWh than fossil fuel sources at most places.  Consumers are billed in kWh - the relevant figure-of-merit is $/kWh, not $/W.  Additionally, there is no long-term cost uncertainty with a PV plant as there is for  a fossil fuel source.  Many consumers are still unaware of these basic facts.

 

Is it bad for the grid? Grid performance, in both the tranmission and distribution networks, can actually be improved by a greater number of PV system connections.  The improvement is enabled by the reactive energy that PV systems can locally provide.  It does however require new learning on the part of the grid operators.

 

How complicated is it to plan and install a PV system?  No other type of utility-scale electricity generation plant can be commissioned as quickly as a PV system.

 

Is intermittency a showstopper? There are two portions of the intermittency: regular variability and unpredictable fluctuations.  The former can be controlled by the use of trackers, while the latter can be mitigated, smoothed out in the aggregated contribution to the grid by geographical dispersion.

 

PV companies, while competing with each other, should collaborate on getting these messages across to the layman - a strategy of marketing co-opettition -  collectively sponsoring direct marketing messages to the end-user consumer.   The general public needs to realise that there is no critical reason, technical or economic, why they have to live with electricity shortages.  Public pressure needs to be built up on governments to invest in PV installations and complementary infrastructure to eliminate the big electricity supply-demand gaps.