Top Energy Small Business Opportunities

Do you Want to profit from the solar revolution? Are you fed up of working for someone and earning less? This article looks at various opportunities that are open for people who want to get into solar energy and selling products related to this.

Today, we see increasing need to integrate products that are part of our day to day needs with Eco-friendly products that protect and preserve the environment that we live in.

While until recently, the business world was looking at costs as a barrier for renewable energy,  Green energy today has become a cheaper option than conventional energy options and with energy forming over 25-30% of the inputs for major business, there is an increasing need to integrate our businesses and solutions with renewable energy products which also help companies stay ahead of the competition.

The use of solar has enabled companies to cut costs and gain competitive advantage. It is proven beyond doubt that adaptation of solar energy in all our daily products not only preserve the environment but also help make economic sense.

There are many opportunities that one can look at either on design/ manufacture of products or trading of these products.

Trending Solar Opportunities

1. Independent Solar Consultant : There are several areas that one can look at on consulting.

  1. Solar energy auditor :  This involves visiting the homes / premises of clients and estimating the total load and analyzing loads that can be put on solar during the day and also analyze if there is any specific requirement on solar with battery storage for the clients. This study can also help in recommendation to the client for using energy efficient appliances and opens the avenues for implementation of BIPV( Building integrated PV).
  2. Solar site and feasibility analysis : Where one can look at assisting large and small integrators on analyzing the site. In the process, based on the roof or the shadows available, help design optimal systems . Solar energy consultants can supervise, monitor and make recommendations when a solar installation project is being/about to be carried out.
  3. Preparation of RFQ( Requirement For Quotation) for large / medium roof top power plants : Where, based on the feasibility study, one comes with the optimal design. Based on this, the technical specifications can be given each of the components on the solar system. This document is then circulated to several vendors who bid for the project.
  4. Selection of vendorsv : Based on pre-qualification criteria and also analyzing the vendors past installations and their company processes, one can help arrive at shortlisting the vendors on technical criteria. It is important to keep in mind that not always the cheapest solution is the best and one will need to analyze the technical capabilities of the vendors at all levels ranging from design, implementation, operation & maintenance.
  5. Supervision of implementation : An important assignment where one can oversee if all aspects of the RFQ are being met in the implementation and in case owing to external factors a deviation is made, whether the same ensures no compromise to the desired output of the panels and if this deviation has any additional cost impact.
  6. Power plant certification and Due Diligence services : This is a on going requirement in the industry. For investors who are looking at buying existing plants in the Industry, one needs to analyze the detailed design and the workings of each plant and come to recommendations on what the plant will generate over the life time and also predict any breakdowns if any. There is an immediate void in this space in the market of appraising solar assets. Some knowledge of weather forecasting tools and power forecasting tools are required in this process. For new plants after the implementation is done, if owing to external situations there has been a deviation on the design, one can still do a certification of the plant to see the gap between the actual on ground implementation vs design and if this has changed the outputs.

Iacharya is a leading consultant with over 1GW of experience and can work jointly with you for any opportunities if need be.

2. Residential and small business -Solar panel Installation-: With a rapid growth of solar energy sector in India, several off grid and on grid installation opportunities on roof top / ground mounted plants exist ,which can help one to start a  successful solar installation business. Basic requirement is good design knowledge. Sites installed with best industry practices perform far better in the long run. One can Never compromise on quality of the systems as the plants are designed to last a life time. This will ensure not only  satisfied customers but also help sustain the business with minimal costs on maintenance of plants erected over the life time. A happy customer automatically ensures sustained business for the entrepreneur.

3. Solar Operational &Maintenance : With the phenomenal growth of Solar, huge opportunities exist on solar O&M and also on repairing solar systems where best practices are employed for cleaning panels and maintaining the balance of systems. One can also partner with existing manufacturers in the market to offer repair services as well for small to large products based on the level of expertise of each.  Several technologies and solutions are available for effective O&M which we will cover over the next few news letters

4. Solar product Designer / Developer : There are a lot of products that one can make based on market needs in the solar energy industry. One can also focus on researching new product ideas and in developing innovative products that would enhance the use of solar energy power. Innovative products could be from potable solar packs, to fold-able panels for easy individual use to innovations in designs that enhance efficiency of the outputs. Sky is the limit for these innovations. We will cover some of these innovations in the next few newsletters.

5. Solar Product Marketing : This is typically a low hanging opportunity where the risk is minimal . One can identify the opportunity and find products / solutions to fit this and match the requirement of the customer. One can take up dealership or become a channel partner to these companies for marketing their products. These options can be explored with options of stocking products as well. One can also act as a broker who helps people save money and time by identifying the best product at the lowest cost ,when installing solar energy systems. Once can shop for the best products in the market at the most affordable prices and market these as well.

6. Solar Training services : Another big opportunity is to become a trainer in various aspects of solar energy for people who want to learn about solar installation or how to start a solar installation business. One can also partner with leading training companies to organize off line and online webinars. One can partner with a local company to showcase practical demonstrations of how solar products work to better educate people.

Iacharya is currently looking at partners who can establish relationship with leading colleges and educational institutions across India and looking at partners to effect this.

7. Technical white papers and Journals : If you are knowledgeable about the solar industry and have a good understanding of how the technology and markets are moving, then you can write about various technologies or products as white papers aimed at educating people and also empowering people with better information. One can also write a book which will sell well if it is focused on market needs.

8. Financing consultant : If you are more savvy with numbers / financial calculations and have experience in fund raising, there is a huge opportunity for you to offer services to some SMEs or large corporate who may be interested in switching to the use of solar energy but may be restrained by the huge costs of embarking on such a project. You can start a business which is aimed at helping such companies raise the needed funds.

9. Solar Insurance Broker : Another smart idea is to offer insurance services to house owners and companies who have solar energy systems installed so that whenever there is a need for repair or replacement, it can be done easily. Today we have several insurances from General fire, theft and others covering natural disasters. Recently many providers have launched insurance that covers guarantees on outputs as well which is very useful for large projects where the risk on outputs is mitigated to a great extent.

10. Rural Opportunities : One can look at various rural opportunities from solar power packs, to home lighting to water pumping for the farmers and teach them how to use solar energy to enhance the growth of crops. This is a fast growing field for small solar products and with the right product idea one can enter the market fast and be very successful. We will cover some rural opportunities in the future news letters.

11. Solar Energy Developer/Investor : If you have the backing for investing into large power plants, opportunities are galore. Bank financing is also available upto 80% of project cost from leading banks and institutions in the country. With 40GW on installations planned by Govt from April 2018 to March 2019, this segment holds a very high opportunity which gives recurring cash flows over the life of the plant for over 20 years for these developers / investors. One can also enter into private PPA s where the credit risk has to be taken into account and once can invest to meet the power requirements of the private companies under a long term PPA.

12. Job placement Services : With the level of installation currently and exponential growth for future installations in solar, this is also an excellent area to enter  with the need for qualified personnel across industries only increasing day by day. Opportunities exist on both full time and part-time jobs. One can start a recruitment agency to help such companies find professionals who are qualified and capable of filing such positions.

13. Solar energy research : For those with a good technical background and inclined to a research mind set, this is a wonderful area where one will be exposed to the latest in technologies. Also with the Govt of India’s push towards Make in India policy, we see all aspects of the solar manufacturing requiring research scholars from Poly-silicon research to, crystal growth, to wafers to cell, to innovation in module manufacturing and finally innovation in various solar applications.