Solar as a Service Providers Should Focus on Unlocking Value Otherwise Unavailable to Customers

To survive, solar leasing providers could transform into virtual power plant providers and benefit from new revenue streams

Jan 31, 2017

A new report from Navigant Research examines the weaknesses of different business models for solar as a service (SOaaS) providers, offering sustainable alternatives that allow providers to stay competitive in a changing solar energy environment.

Following a recent decline in solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) in California (which represents roughly 60 percent of the US market), traditional SOaaS players began joining financial players and offering loans instead of leases as a way to retain market share. However, to increase their long-term survival prospects, players must find a way to unlock non-energy related revenue, and ideally in a way that creates win-win situation for solar service players. Click to tweet: According to a new report from @NavigantRSRCH, SOaaS providers should focus on unlocking value otherwise unavailable to customers.

“SOaaS was popularized in the US between 2010 and 2015 and it seemed that solar leases were going to be the winning business model, allowing large players to both increase the market size and displace local installers,” says Roberto Rodriguez Labastida, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “But since the share of solar leases and PPAs plunged in 2015, Navigant Research does not expect that the trend against leasing will reverse and anticipates that the revenue that SOaaS players receive per watt of installed capacity will decline as a higher share of installations move toward loans.”

According to the report, transforming solar leasing and PPA providers into virtual power plant providers could be a viable way for SOaaS providers to increase their value to customers going forward. Strong consumer-facing brands like SolarCity, Vivint, Sunnova, or SunRun and their current customer relationship expertise could open up new revenue streams key for provider survival.

The report, Solar as a Service, analyzes the different business models for SOaaS providers. The study examines the weaknesses of the various current business models and suggests a more sustainable model that the industry could adopt worldwide. SOaaS contract options are discussed, with a focus on models that will enable SOaaS providers to remain competitive in a changing solar energy environment. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

Contact: Lindsay Funicello-Paul


* The information contained in this press release concerning the report, Solar as a Service, is a summary and reflects Navigant Research’s current expectations based on market data and trend analysis. Market predictions and expectations are inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those contained in this press release or the report. Please refer to the full report for a complete understanding of the assumptions underlying the report’s conclusions and the methodologies used to create the report. Neither Navigant Research nor Navigant undertakes any obligation to update any of the information contained in this press release or the report.