What should a client look for when selecting a consultant in the solar energy industry?

Zintro asked experts in the solar energy field to comment on core competencies and what clients should look for in a solar energy consultant.
Jan Grotenberg, a consultant with expertise in commercializing complex technology like solar and smart grids, believes an expert in the solar energy industry should have an understanding of the technologies used to take solar solutions for utilities to scale as well as small scale commercial and residential. “A consultant has to have a basic understanding of systems and related components, such as inverters and storage, as well as the behavior of solar systems with relation to the grid” he says.

On the commercial side, an expert needs to understand how business models work for solar and be aware of different pricing mechanisms on the retail side. Furthermore, Grotenberg says that it is very important to understand the regulatory landscape at the regional, state, and federal level.

Gary Rafaloff, managing partner at Anova Energy Solutions, LLC and a solar development consultant, says solar energy experts must have several core competencies:

  • Basic understanding of solar energy and how a photovoltaic system functions;
  • Detailed and complete understanding of all federal and state incentive programs;
  • Understanding leasing, sub-leasing, tenant involvement, lender agreements, roofing requirements, property power load, and building structure;
  • Knowledge of business financial modeling with the ability to prepare customized financial proformas;
  • Financing experience as most solar systems are purchased with some type of financing, including loans, leasing (both operating and capital), and power purchase agreements (PPAs); and
  • Business ownership structure, which may be crucial in utilizing incentives and protecting the system or property owner for legal and insurance purposes.

Arik Ring, an expert in several solar technologies, says clients should look for consultants with the capacity to evaluate where the market is coming from and where it is going in addition to experience that fits a specific project. He categorizes clients based on knowledge level and technology needs:

  • Clients that have a wide knowledge foundation in power plants and solar power should look for experts with specific knowledge in the industry on solar Brayton cycle, solar organic Rankine cycle, or specific parts of the solar power plant, such as solar receiver or heat transfer fluid system.
  • Clients with recent background in the field of solar power should look for experts with broad understanding of the industry and those who can scrutinize various technological solutions for them.

SolarMD notes that post-installation issues in the areas of operations and maintenance are a neglected and misunderstood area that consultants should research and understand. “A solar energy consultant should have practical understanding of the factors driving the success of each particular project: location, incentive policies, environmental constraints, available resources, and product technologies,” he says.

Bernhard Voll, a renewable energy and energy efficiency consultant, remarks that a solar energy consultant must not only have firm knowledge of solar technologies, but practical, customer service experience as well. “I’ve seen many consultants trying to change their client rather than serving the customer,” he says. “Broad knowledge and specific understanding of insulation, mathematics, and quality manufacturing go hand-in-hand with well-written reports and solid customer relations.” Voll says that experts in the field would benefit from experience in designing, constructing, commissioning, operating, and financing a station.

Do you have a question about the solar power industry or any other topic you would like to ask Zintro’s experts? Click here. Would you be interested in signing up to be a Zintro expert and generate free leads for your business? Click here.


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  5. Great article and info! I’d been looking to learn more about solar energy in California, where I’m currently living.

  6. lucacoleman says:

    When you looking for a solar power consultant, it is important that they are reliable and knowledgeable.

  7. great info. i want to make panels on my house. i’ll check out these experts

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