A deep dive with the solar specialists

Table of Contents

What can we do about rising energy costs in the UK? The average household bill could reach £3300 in October 2022. UK companies aren’t immune either, and that translates into higher prices for consumers. We caught up with Abhinav Jain, CEO of PowerMarket. We discussed the viability of solar, satellite data, and what the future of UK energy might look like.

PowerMarket – Explained in 30 seconds

PowerMarket focuses on the end-to-end lifecycle of solar sites. Abhinav described the lifecycle having three distinct stages:

Planning: Find ideal solar sites and compare/contrast sites based on CO2 impact and anticipated return on investment.

Execution: Manage the construction of solar sites.

Monitoring: Track and optimise the efficiency of installed solar assets.

Getting solar right requires careful planning and their software addresses key considerations throughout the solar lifecycle. It:

  1. Receives a proposed site location
  2. Assesses the related satellite and weather data
  3. Applies machine learning before generating a decision
  4. Generates an optimal solar site configuration
  5. Provides data on expected return on investment and CO2 impact
  6. Considers data received from the solar sites to make decisions about solar asset efficiency, health, and optimisation

This end-to-end solution automates ~90% of the solar lifecycle management process. For many customers, that headache is the difference between shifting to solar and not.

The origins of PowerMarket

Abhinav was no stranger to solar before founding PowerMarket. Early in his career, he assessed, set up, and managed solar sites. Those experiences were formative – Abhinav could see many ways to automate the process. Nothing inspires innovation quite like having to do a repetitive task!

In 2013, he moved to the UK and studied for his MBA at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. It surprised Abhinav that he couldn’t find a UK company tackling the problems he’d encountered in the solar sector. Armed with his prior experiences and a belief in a better solution, he founded PowerMarket in 2016. His concept was backed by Oxford University Innovation and subsequently the European Space Agency.

Why is solar energy important?

The energy from the sun is both abundant and reliable. We can use solar panels to absorb sunlight and convert it into electrical energy. More than enough sunlight hits Earth on a daily basis to meet humanity’s energy needs. Calculations by Steve Hurley suggest that covering 0.12% of Earth in solar panels, would be enough to cover our energy demands.

So why isn’t 0.12% of Earth covered in solar panels? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The amount of sunlight reaching the ground varies depending on where you are. Seasonality, weather, and the time of day all impact how much energy reaches a solar panel. Spoiler alert: not a lot is getting absorbed at night.

PowerMarket’s software uses this data to identify and design ideal sites. This reduces blind spots for customers. Having this data to make decisions about switching to solar is crucial when it comes to weighing up the expected return on investment.

What does the future look like according to PowerMarket?

PowerMarket believes in a decentralised and distributed future for energy. In this vision, consumers would also be energy producers. Local communities would use energy produced from local solar sites. In fact, many of these community solar projects are already operating today.

Schools, hospitals, and universities are all potential locations for community solar sites. Government too owns a lot of land and buildings. In an era of 2030 net-zero commitments and rising energy prices, it would make sense to consider solar.

What are the biggest challenges for PowerMarket?

  1. Education customers about the viability of solar
  2. Finding new team members

Educating customers about the viability of solar

There’s been a huge reduction in solar site costs since 2010. In the UK, utility-scale solar site costs are down 86% between 2010 and 2020. Even small solar sites, the type you’d see on a home, are down 33.55% between 2013 and 2020.

Even though costs are down, there is still an upfront cost when switching to solar. Once installed though, solar panels have a 25-year life expectancy. Proper maintenance can also extend this. Taking this into account, this is where PowerMarket adds value. They can assess a proposed solar site and measure the expected return on investment. This increases confidence in the proposed project and makes it easier to switch to solar.

Incidentally, solar is now the cheapest form of new energy production for many regions around the world, according to the International Energy Agency. Companies like PowerMarket are directly contributing towards this green energy revolution.

Finding new team members

PowerMarket is growing! If you’re interested in exploring a potential career with them, head over to Careers | PowerMarket

Who would PowerMarket like to connect with?

  1. Public sector: local authorities and government agencies
  2. Private sector: energy and telecommunications companies, as well as other large corporations that are curious about the benefits of switching to solar
  3. Consulting firms and individuals specialising in solar lifecycle management
  4. People interested in a career in the solar industry who are aligned with PowerMarket’s vision

What did we learn from this conversation?

  • Since 2010, the costs of installing solar panels fell a lot – 86% for utility-scale sites in the UK.
  • Solar is now the cheapest form of new energy production for some regions around the world
  • Electricity produced on a local scale from solar sites could be a valuable part of a national energy security strategy
  • UK public sector has 2020 net-zero commitments to meet and solar is a viable strategy
  • Wild fluctuations in the price of energy makes planning difficult for businesses. Solar would be a reliable option for many businesses.
  • PowerMarket’s software gives customers a greater degree of certainty about the viability of a solar site
  • PowerMarket uses satellite data to enable customers to make better decisions
  • Their market proposition is very relevant in light of the 2022 energy crisis
Share this article with a friend

Create an account to access this functionality.
Discover the advantages