When it comes to solar, I much prefer developers to solar manufacturers. Solar manufacturers face the prospect of ever declining prices for their product and a constant need for technological innovation to keep up in a fierce competitive landscape. Solar project developers, on the other hand, have strong public support and interest in their product, combined with rising prices for the electricity they sell and declining prices for the solar panels they buy. They also have much lower fixed costs, meaning that while the threat of new entrants will keep them from ever becoming wildly profitable, they also do not have huge capital investments that can lock them in if building solar installations becomes unprofitable.
The low barriers to entry for solar developers mean that strong product differentiation is valuable.
Envision has developed parking lot structures they call “Solar Trees” for attractively shading parking lots while producing solar electricity. The company promotes their products as “addressing the unused millions of acres of parking spaces.” I there’s actually more too it than that, because in the sunnier parts of the country, there is value in both the electricity and in the shade. In an extremely sunny city such as Tucson, Phoenix, or Las Vegas, I would expect that most shoppers would be more interested in visiting a store where they expected to get a shaded parking space, since almost all shady parking spaces in Tucson are almost always already taken.
The idea of solar on parking lot shades is not a new one. I remember seeing one in the parking lot of an Austin Library Branch in 2000. But earlier parking lot solar arrays were bespoke designs created anew for each individual project. With a small number of flexible designs, Envision can not only keep engineering costs down, but also talk with some credibility about the cost and performance of previous arrays they have installed over nine MW of projects for clients such as Dell. They’ve also teamed up with Bright Automotive to combine the solar parking structures (which require electric service) with electric vehicle charging stations. Along with the ready-to-build, relatively attractive designs, partners and previous clients like these could establish Envision as the go-to firm for parking lot solar.
via Alternative Energy Stocks: Solar Archives.