6 ways to diversify your solar PV business

After 5 volatile years in the solar industry the market is going through another slowdown, we can always tell how big the slowdown is by the number of phone calls we get from PV suppliers calling up to tout for our business!! Here at Titan Eco we work with renewables companies to help them diversify their business by adding new bolt-ons that don't cost a lot but can bring in strong revenues.

So we thought it would be a good opportunity to look at some of the options on offer to renewables companies to generate additional revenues.

1. Solar Buyback - earn anything from £100 to over £500 per lead by offering solar buyback options to your customers who may want to cash in their FiT but keep their panels. Customers an earn up to £15,000k for a 4kWp pre-March 2012 and you can earn a commission. (At Titan Eco we are working with 2 of the biggest solar buyback companies in the UK and so we can help you get started and get customers signed up). Does it work? It does, but demand is not as high as you would think, the payback is only around 30% upfront compared to what they would receive over the remainder of the tariff, so most customers sensibly won't do it, but it is an option for some where their circumstances have changed and they need the cash. But its easy to set up and get running.

2. Energy Brokering - Many companies will already have copies of their customers bills, so its possible to look into alternative deals to offer them and earn some commission. And your customer will be happy because of the savings, building trust levels. (Titan Eco can help set you up with a company to compare their utilities prices to all the market leading deals). Does it work? Yes, its easy to set up, and customers will appreciate you. Many though may already be in buying cooperatives (especially farmers) and so it may still be tricky to get them to switch, but still worth offering.

3. Battery Storage - Most homeowners with solar PV will be lucky to use 60% of their generated power, with most of the energy produced in the day when the house tends to be empty. So battery storage makes sense, doesn't it? Well yes it does, but costs are still relatively high, even though they have come down quickly, but ROI still tends to be tiny, so only really desirable for those looking to survive the zombie apocalypse. Does it work? Batteries have been touted by all the suppliers, but install levels are tiny. However Tesla may be changing this, interest is high and with increasing numbers of Tesla cars on the roads and the potential that the car will sync with the solar battery brings the prospect of free motoring using green electricity.

4. Electric Car Chargers - The demand for this started back in 2011/12 when this Nissan Leaf launched. Unfortunately its lamentable range of 100 miles meant that sales took off with a whimper. It also led to a huge rollout by companies such as Pod Point and Chargemaster looking to secure marketshare for the few hundred electric cars. However Tesla has come to the rescue, the US electric car maker has become the dominant player in the market with cars that do over 200 miles, eliminating range anxiety, and with its Model 3 coming out which already has pre-orders of 500,000 and a sale price of under £30k, the market is set to gain a lot more lower cost, higher range cars. So the demand for electric car chargers is only set to rise further, so it makes sense to set up to install them and build relationships. Does it work? Yes, demand is low at the moment but is only going to rise as more and more companies start to offer electric cars to their employees meaning higher demand for chargers at work and at home.

5. Monitoring & maintenance packages - A real growth area, as inverters start to fail, and companies reverse their previous sales spiel that solar PV needs no maintenance and will last for ever. Systems need maintenance to keep them working, panels need cleaning and inverters need replacing. Retrofitting a monitor also makes sense as it reduces downtime, and when many customers who installed pre-March 2012 are earning up to £2k a year for a 4kWp system, any downtime is expensive. Does it work? Yes, all solar companies should be offering monitoring and maintenance packages, surprisingly a lot still don't. (Titan Eco can help you set up a monitoring and maintenance package to sell to residential and commercial customers)

6. LED Lighting - LED lighting hit the mainstream a few years ago. Switching to LED lighting not only cuts consumption by up to 80%, it also provides a better light. Momentum is moving away from pure energy savings and towards more flexible options and better light to improve workplace productivity. Does it work? Yes, the rapid rise of LED lighting in the last 5-years means they are everywhere and likely to lead to the phasing out of halogen and fluorescent lighting in the next few years.

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