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The Dynamic Future of Solar Energy

Written By: Meghan Milam
January 19, 2024
3 min read

The solar industry is one that has high aims – to build the safest, cleanest, and most reliable energy grid in America. As experts discussed at Intersolar North America 2024 in San Diego, America’s energy needs are continuing to grow, and solving those with solar energy is going to be a major undertaking. “This industry needs to smash new growth records to meet the energy needs for 2035 and beyond,” shared Jesse Jenkins, Associate Professor at Princeton University.

Miguel Romero, Chief Commercial Officer of San Diego Gas and Electric Company, shared his perspective on these challenges. The challenges of the solar industry are threefold: decarbonization, diversification, and digitalization. Let’s look at what each of these three D’s of solar energy means, and how dynamic work is best-suited to help solar energy providers achieve their goals for our energy grid.

Decarbonization – and understanding data

To succeed in the solar industry’s lofty decarbonization goals and eventually phase out fossil fuels, a lot of foundational infrastructure needs to be built. From pipelines to electric vehicle charging stations, using more solar energy is going to take a major investment. This includes storage – batteries will be nearly as important as the infrastructure and panels that are critical to solar energy. And electrification continues to expand into other sectors, such as maritime.

Building this massive infrastructure is going to take coordination and collaboration among various companies, government agencies, partners, and more. This means a lot of data – from all of these parties, and all of the different systems that each of these parties will have. Without a centralized view of data and information, infrastructure projects are simply too complex with too many moving parts to get done on time and on budget. A full-scale understanding of data from different systems and organizations is a must as we move towards a solar future.

Diversification – and managing complex projects

Miguel also shared in his keynote that America’s electricity consumption is set to double by 2040. That means 16 years to figure out the best way to leverage clean electricity and clean molecules such as hydro, wind, and nuclear to maintain resiliency and reliability on our electric grid.

The amount of growth that needs to happen in this industry will lead to big, massive projects driving revenue for organizations in the solar industry. Building out the infrastructure for growth means projects that take different people and systems, a combination of physical and digital assets, and workflows and resources to track and orchestrate. Not to mention, in an industry with so much government red tape, ensuring compliance in this rapid growth is going to be critical. These are all hallmark traits of dynamic work – the flexible, multi-dimensional, multi-stakeholder work that drives results and revenue.

Digitalization – and capturing information from anywhere

As a number of people emphasized throughout the conference, the future of the clean energy grid is going to require the energy grid to communicate with devices in real-time. This is what will open up a whole new frontier of opportunity, especially for the customer to determine their own needs.

A major part of this comes from the information workers in the field have access to. Finding ways to communicate between the field and the back-office is central to what growth will look like. That goes beyond mobile capabilities being a must-have – they become a value-add, and allow you to capture new data that was otherwise lost to manual processes and people in the field without a way to capture information. This data becoming accessible will present new opportunities for growth and allow new information to drive better insights for solar companies.

The solar energy industry has a long time-horizon, with a future-forward approach and an opportunity to affect generations to come. For an industry full of partnerships, integrations, and collaborative, seeing such a technology-focused approach to what success in the future looks like puts Dynamic Work Management at the center of the solar energy movement.

Meghan Milam
Written By: Meghan Milam

Meghan Milam is a Senior Solutions Marketing Manager at Quickbase.