The power of data: the value of connecting

August 6, 2022
5 min read
Is it time to embrace solar for your business?

Good decisions start with good data. Chances are, your utility has excellent data about your energy consumption. Most utilities take a meter reading every 15 minutes -- about 35,000 meter readings per year. With the right tools, that data paints a picture of the opportunities for facility-level energy savings. For solar, this data is pure gold because it tells us exactly when solar is making money for you, and how much. With this level of precision, we can fine tune the exact quantity of solar that will generate the best returns and see whether those returns would be enhanced by a battery.

Solar power offers an opportunity to increase your revenue with no hassle, but precise, data-informed planning can make the difference between a solar project that merely breaks even and a solar asset that reliably boosts your bottom line.  

Historically, utility rates go up faster than inflation. But that was before, when utilities weren't burdened by massive wildfire liabilities, outdated equipment, and erosion of their monopoly position by on-site solar, batteries, and energy efficient devices.

If you haven't gone solar yet, you've done the right thing. The "wait and see" approach has paid off because the price of solar has come down over the years and has stabilized, while federal incentives remain largely intact. But this sweet spot won’t last forever -- Congress has already scheduled the sunsetting of federal incentives. They're available now but are scheduled to go away within 12 quarters.

Data has taken the guesswork out of solar installation and future savings

You’ll know exactly:

  • How much installing solar is going to cost.
  • How much solar will produce optimal returns
  • The down-to-the-hour value of these returns..

Let’s face the facts, as a business owner, you are thinking about investing in solar to either save money or make money - either way, it’s all about profitability. Yes, it also feels good to do your part to help the environment, but the focus is usually on the financial benefits that using solar brings to the table for your company and everything else is just icing on the cake.

In the dynamic world of clean energy, Lumen Energy stands out with game-changing data analysis tools designed to provide a solar energy solution that is tailored to meet the needs of your business. Turning your energy consumption into real savings with the press of a button is our superpower.

Why estimate when we can work together to create a detailed picture of your particular energy needs?

If you want to know the technology costs involved, then you’ll need to examine solar energy cost with data analysis. You’ll also gain a window into other crucial factors like location specific competitive advantages, detailed levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and poly impacts on system financing. Finally, you’ll need to carefully assess the solar energy performance and reliability to help predict energy output and gain greater situational awareness.

History of solar and big data

When solar first entered the scene and was being pushed heavily as a way for homeowners to save energy costs while helping save the planet, there wasn’t a lot of real data available. Many people were left to wonder exactly how solar energy could benefit them.

For many, solar seemed like a vague hit and miss. Businesses took a sit back and wait approach - refusing to embrace the ‘unknown.’ Although solar energy is abundant and capturing it creates renewable energy, many were left guessing about the nuts and bolts of the process. Fast forward to today when data is king, and the questions are now answered with precision.

Big data is opening doors and lifting the mysterious veil that has surrounded solar. With the use of data, determinations can be made on the ideal conditions needed to generate abundant solar power. In the early days, there wasn’t a great deal of thought put behind the placement of solar panels by many installation companies, but today, analytic models let us know exactly where to place solar panels to provide the best energy dividends.

Data has been used to create and refine solar technology to even greater efficiency and productivity. Solar has become affordable and lucrative which is making businesses sit up and take notice.

Energy prices continue to rise and are a concern for many businesses. In fact, in many cases they are a major monthly expense. Many business owners are choosing to install solar systems to curb the costs. Solar is a sustainable energy alternative that is highly cost effective. However, with the assistance of Lumen, you can do more than break even or save money - you can actually earn additional income with solar power by linking with Lumen.

Solar energy and big data work together

As one of the most abundant energy sources on Earth, solar energy is completely renewable, clean, and inexpensive. When used correctly, it is profitable and powerful - two things that make businesses take notice.

When solar power is captured and converted to energy, it becomes affordable. Data shows you exactly how you can gain value with solar energy solutions. Companies rely on data now to determine the perfect conditions to make solar power operate at maximum efficiency.

The energy savings obtained by business from solar panels is exceptionally large and impressive. Some reports have businesses reducing their energy costs by as much as 75 percent when they use solar panels.

Currently, there are government programs that allow businesses to use solar energy without making a huge investment. The tax breaks and tax credits are making most businesses take notice of solar. In addition, modern solar panels are built to last with many offerings guarantees of 25 years or more.

The 26% Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is designed for businesses. It offers a federal incentive tax credit that runs through 2022. In 2023, the incentive drops to 22% and in 2024 it goes to 10%. Clearly it pays for a business to act quickly and embrace solar to make use of the lucrative incentives.

Clearly solar energy and data are working together to create a cleaner and better tomorrow. Businesses are now seeing solar not only as a reliable source of energy but also has a way to improve their bottom line each month.

How much does it cost to install solar panels?

In recent years, the cost of installing commercial solar panels has dropped dramatically. With so many businesses going solar, the cost is forecast to continue to plummet. Solar panels also function as a ditch against electricity price volatility and inflation. Without a doubt, solar has become a wise investment that has the potential to provide an enormous return on investment for businesses.

Why is cost and data analysis important?

As a business owner, you know the importance of analyzing data before making any decision or deal. You don’t even arrive at the negotiation table without first analyzing all components. Data analysis has become an essential tool in the arsenal of all companies. It’s the same for solar. Making the decision to join forces with Lumen and embrace solar involves careful cost and data analysis to make sure you are making the right choice for the future of your company.

Lumen encourages you to analyze the solar data we provide so you can see how the solar industry pushes a reduction in energy costs over time.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) identifies additional cost reduction opportunities. They work to fund development and research in three key areas: photovoltaic (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), and systems integration.

The goal is to improve the affordability, reliability, and benefits of solar technology on the electrical grid. The data analysis they provide can also be used when factoring costs and future benefits.

Lumen believes in using all of the available data to make enlightened decisions about cost and future data.

Careful analysis also reduces soft costs.

Solar data analysis includes:

  • Techno economic analysis of photovoltaic (PV
  • Soft cost analysis of electrical markets
  • Environmental impact
  • Lifetime cost
  • Solar access
  • PV integration for grid planning
  • Reliable operation
  • Cost of energy of the solar system that is based off the system’s installed price
  • Lifetime cost
  • Lifetime electricity production

You will want to research the area and the different electricity markets to determine growth and solar value. In addition, you’ll need to look at the barriers to solar adoption and any valuation and operation performance of solar with energy storage. Remember, solar can have a real symbiotic relationship with the environment and even mitigate potential adverse effects.

Solar forecasting and data

Solar forecasting generates data that help the utility companies and grid operators understand when, where and how solar power is produced during different periods of time. As more solar is added to the grid, the forecast data provides a window into grid flexibility so solar can be better incorporated into the energy grid mix.

Analytical and computational tools let researchers develop solutions that help support solar stake holders and businesses reach their goals.

Soft costs and solar

Lumen Energy is there for you from start to finish. We apply technology and decades of experience, so you gain a personalized clean energy system that delivers immediate value. Our team specializes in deploying reliable onsite energy systems globally.

When it's time to build your solar system, we partner with only the best qualified installers in your area to ensure the job is done correctly. The professional contractors know the fire codes, building inspectors, and can effortlessly execute the required permits for the necessary solar designs.

Soft costs include installation, permitting, and inspections. All of the soft costs can easily make up 64 percent of the solar photovoltaic system’s costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Depending on local permitting and regulations, there are often price differences that range from $3,200 to $4,700 for a 50-kilowatt residential solar installation. In an effort to reduce costs, Lumen streamlines all permitting, inspection and interconnection processes.

In recent years, technology innovations and greater availability have brought down solar technology costs. However, non-hardware (soft costs) has actually ticked upwards instead of declining.

Solar soft costs are associated with:

  • Customer acquisition
  • Permitting
  • Inspection
  • Interconnection to the electric gird
  • Taxation
  • Installation
  • System financing

Soft costs are paid by the business owners investing in solar. If you are interested in reducing the expenses and finding doable solutions, then let Lumen help. We cope with permitting, inspections and interconnection processes to keep costs down and so you don’t have to worry about them.

When it comes time to deploy a solar PV system, you’ll encounter two separate approval processes that run parallel to each other:

  • Local jurisdiction which oversees inspections and permitting.
  • Electric utility which manages interconnection.

In the U.S. soft costs are often driven higher due to permitting, inspections, and interconnection processes. There are more than18,000 jurisdictions and over 3,000 utilities in the country so costs vary dramatically.

Delays in any part of the approval process costs a company money with higher system costs and lost energy production. Customer satisfaction also takes a serious hit.

Solar energy soft costs remain a concern for business. Some states, such as California have taken steps to make soft costs more transparent by improving permitting, inspection, and the entire process of interconnection.

In 2014, California enacted legislation that requires all county and city governments in the state to provide expected and streamlined permitting processes for small residential rooftop systems (less than 10 kilowatts) but it is of little use to businesses. Clearly recent changes must be implemented to help push expedited review processes to help control soft costs.

Lumen is well aware of the soft costs involved in solar installations. We will provide you with the analysis and the data that you need for full transparency. Our team also focuses on handling everything in a very concise manner to ensure that costs are kept down, and everything is conducted in a timely manner.

We harness data to save you money

When planning your system requirements, Lumen does not make suggestions blindly. Instead, we use state-of-the-art data to give you the answers you require and help you determine the size of the system your business needs to render the profitable results you seek.

It’s amazing how much one can learn from the 35000 utility meter readings over the course of a year. Lumen Energy leverages this treasure trove of information to create a clear picture of your energy needs.

Our industry experts also factor in your facility’s roof orientation, annual solar radiation, and a detailed cost analysis. We run numerous scenarios to determine the most financially productive orientation and size for your solar array. The result is an actionable, competitive offer to go solar.

We do not base any decision on a so-called ‘guesstimate' but on hard data analysis.

What exactly can we learn from thousands of meter readings?

Quite a lot, actually. When you link us to your utility usage data, Lumen Energy’s team of data scientists and engineers apply state-of-the-art models to find out if solar makes financial sense for your business.

We carefully analyze energy usage throughout the entire year with high resolution. The data already exists, but interpreting it into useful insights is where we come in.

Our analysis reveals exactly when your facility demands the most energy, and where the greatest opportunities for savings lie.

The ultimate goal is to provide businesses with an opportunity to effortlessly generate new revenue while making the switch to renewable energy. The data we provide gives a business owner a clear picture of the feasibility and profitability of solar.

Solar should never be a compromise for business. Today’s solar energy technologies benefit from 70 years of improvement. Your business can be the beneficiary of the efficiency, reliability and affordability made possible by billions of dollars in research and development.

In the world of solar, efficiency is king. Today’s commercially available solar panels are between 17% and 22% efficient, a 30% increase over solar technologies available in 2010. Efficiency and affordability combined with the power of data translate into favorable economics for commercial solar.  

But don’t just take our word for it. Our analysis of your very own utility data can guarantee that commercial solar makes financial sense for your business.

The ultimate goal is to provide businesses with an opportunity to effortlessly generate new revenue while making the switch to renewable energy. The data we provide gives a business owner a clear picture of the feasibility and profitability of solar.
We don’t Have supercomputers, but our friends do

How do we unleash the power of data? Lumen Energy collaborates with scientists working on the latest and greatest energy efficiency and renewable energy models.

We connect you with the solar and energy efficiency tools of the

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Oak Ridge National Labs
  • Lawrence Berkeley Labs
  • And others

The above top-tier research institutions are leading breakthroughs in fundamental science that are moving clean technologies forward.

With access to your energy usage data, we can take advantage of these powerful analytics to calculate precisely how much solar energy can be produced on-site while concurrently assessing the feasibility of battery storage and energy efficiency upgrades to find the sweet spot for your business. No two scenarios are the same, but that’s no problem for us and our data-driven partners.

Complete financial analysis

Lumen provides businesses with a complete financial analysis of costs which include the local utility’s unit price of energy along with Lumen’s unit price of energy. With the data provided, you’ll be able to clearly see all costs involved in installing solar and all savings you can expect to achieve.

We want you to make the decision to take your business to the next step with solar on actual financial analysis data. Our team provides you with complete transparency, so you know all possible specifications and all future projections. We don’t want you in the dark about anything when deciding.

In addition, at Lumen, we provide you with accurate statistics that will show the price points and benefits of solar today, tomorrow, and into the future. There is no guessing when you do business with us because we believe in the data and the facts.

The future of solar and big data

Solar is creating a sustainable tomorrow for the world and humankind. Big data and solar are emerging as integral technologies that go hand-in-hand. They are changing the future of business.

Data and analytics have shown that 80% of rooftops are viable for solar installations. Clearly commercial solar projects are a practical and viable investment in just about all locations. Factors such as weather also impact how solar power works and whether or not it can attain peak efficiency. Using data, weather possibilities can also be factored into any decisions.

With the use of predictive analytics, energy companies can combine the use of renewables with traditional power facilities to maintain peak energy. Solar users no longer have to worry about highs and dips in energy due to weather situations or the time of the year.

The grid is widespread and through the use of data systems, an energy supplier can supply clean power directly to the grid for a company across the nation to purchase. This is true even if the energy they use is being delivered to a local utility.

Big data creates the framework necessary to ensure that everything is monitored and continues to function. Maintenance operations are conducted by sensors and data loggers throughout the field. The tools show if solar panels are performing correctly.

Choosing solar sites also depends on the use of data which reveal projected costs, productivity, and maintenance needs for a particular location. Data makes it easier to decide if a business wants to invest or not.

Lumen knows and understands the importance of data for businesses to even consider solar. We provide complete data transparency and work with you closely so you can make the necessary decisions to ensure your business’s success with solar.

Zero risk, zero commitment

Businesses have every right to be cautious with their data and privacy, and we respect that. That’s why we don’t request any personal or financial information for your solar energy evaluation.

When you choose to partner with Lumen Energy, we guide you through the secure process of simply linking us to your electricity usage data so we can calculate how to best serve you. There’s no cost at all, and zero commitment.

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