Ideation 1

Ideation 1

The ideation contest focuses on generating and aggregating pressing U.S. renewable and energy efficiency market needs and problem statements that can be solved through automation, algorithms, data, and software, especially by leveraging available data assets, tools, capabilities, and resources. Anyone can participate by submitting problem statements online or by voting on problem statements submissions from others. A contestant with a problem statement may win $1,000 in cash prizes when a team, who adopted this problem statement in their business solution, has been selected among top five winners by a panel of judges in accordance with the rules of the incubation contest.

Campaign Funnel

Ideation 1

Homeowners Use More Electricity After Going Solar; Question Solar Savings

One of the most common issues in the residential solar market is that homeowners change their energy usage behavior after going solar and consume more electricity. Consequently, their electric bill will bounce back to what it used to be before going solar or even more. This is called “Rebound Effect” (please see the attached link). Current monitoring systems just provide kWh production of the solar systems which is not ...more »

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135 votes
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Ideation 1

Solar Panels Efficiency in Non-optimal Temperature Conditions

Ambient cell temperatures used to evaluate and rate performance of flat panel photovoltaic (PV) modules are 25°C (77°F) for Standard Test Conditions (STC), 20°C (68°F) for Standard Operating Conditions (SOC) and PVUSA Test Conditions (PTC), all of these reference temperatures are unrealistic for much of the United States during summer days where ambient temperatures are > 90°F so electric output from these devices are ...more »

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131 votes
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Ideation 1

Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Reduce Large Solar Field Inspection Costs

Utility-scale solar facility operators spend thousands of labor hours inspecting, identifying and isolating faulty, dirty or shaded solar panels. This operation and maintenance (O&M) challenge is costly and impacts the competitiveness of solar energy pricing. As the US solar industry continues to grow in US markets driven by renewable portfolio standards, large-scale solar facilities will become more common and will be ...more »

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79 votes
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Ideation 1

Solar Shopping – An Information Overload Experience that Makes Most Cringe

Shopping for solar usually results in an information overload experience that makes most people cringe. What if we could create functionality to empower consumers with the ability to identify what stage of solar inquiry and purchasing they are in and then serve up to them the information appropriate for their buying stage? This would help potential customers by uncluttering the solar education and decision process, ...more »

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65 votes
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Ideation 1

Inspire, inform and educate consumers on the benefits of solar energy

A large obstacle to the growth of the solar market is the overwhelming array of information and choices that must be made in order to implement solar energy in the home. The complexity of information about the benefits of solar energy, the technology decisions and the financing programs available results in a message to consumers which is both confusing and dull. This situation creates the need for an innovative application ...more »

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44 votes
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Ideation 1

ENERGY LOTTERY - Free kWatts!...for Life!

ENTER TO WIN...ENERGY! At this stage, the Solar PV Industry needs active response from the consumers. The potential customers, though, have not been sensitized enough with the idea and benefits of Solar PV. A marketing strategy is required, which would capture people's attention and mobilize them to act! Such a lottery game, which would not only be a game but a nationwide warehouse of information, research, analysis and ...more »

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41 votes
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Ideation 1

The Solar Endowment

US universities are currently in a position to make substantial solar project investments on their campuses and associated properties. With the near nationwide adoption of the Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act, endowment managers are now guided by the first prudent investor rule enacted in statutory law. The law allows endowments to invest in any kind of asset, to pool endowment funds for investment purposes, ...more »

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33 votes
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Ideation 1

Making Solar Energy Sexy

I would like to have a campaign that shows homeowners and commercial building owners how easy it is to go solar. Flyers for energy auditors are technical, boring, and are typically over the head of average customer. A campaign created that is fun, sexy, interesting, and saves people money and the environment is needed nationally.

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30 votes
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Ideation 1

Getting the Public the Best Bang for Their Solar Buck

As a homeowner, I wish I had a tool/app where I could type in my address, available roof space, and project budget, and the tool/app would come back to me with the most optimal solar option for my home based upon price, efficiency, and reliability. The answer would include the optimal local vendor, what panels and inverters to use, where to place the panels, detailed energy generation estimates, economic breakeven point, ...more »

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23 votes
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Ideation 1

Solar Net Metering with Green Button

ESPI Green Button format is usually implemented to present electric energy usage. This format includes direction of energy flow from or into the grid (generation). This allows presenting PV energy generation when its higher than energy usage and is recorded by smart net meters for each interval. A website can be created where homeowners can submit their Green Button data obtained from utility to compare usage/generation ...more »

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22 votes
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Ideation 1

Making Solar "Easy" for installing

I would like to see easy solar for homeowners, renters, and the general public. Solar has become expensive, due to all the hands in the game, from installers, to manufacturers, to retail space costs, to salespeople. Solar needs to be affordable, and easy. I would like to see a energy assessors offer a plug and play system, that someone could purchase, set up in your yard, or patio, then plug it in their wall outlet. ...more »

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22 votes
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Ideation 1

A personalized sensor, ‘iSense’ that can infer occupant comfort

The idea is to develop a new sensor, ‘iSense’ that has the capabilities to detect occupancy status, occupant count, comfort status as well as human-building system interactions (i.e. interactions with windows, shades, lighting and the thermostat). Based on real-time data collected from the ‘iSense,’ an analytics and modeling package will provide diagnostic information on comfort issues, building operation, and worker ...more »

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22 votes
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Ideation 1

Zillow for Solar: Mapping the Economics of Residential Systems

There are millions of households today who would irrefutably economically benefit from installing solar panels, but who have not yet done so. If every household for whom solar was already a viable economic option could be catalyzed into taking action, not only would the size of solar's footprint grow, but the resulting increase in volumes would likely drive costs (for installation, maintenance, etc) further down the curve. ...more »

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20 votes
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Ideation 1

Making Renewable Portfolio Standards as Easy As Investment Portfolios

Municipalities and large institutional campuses carefully build investment portfolios to protect and grow their financial assets. When it comes to their energy use, however, almost none of them use a portfolio approach, despite the fact that they often have the opportunity to negotiate a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) with the local utility. One key barrier is the lack of easy-to-access information on fuel source ...more »

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20 votes
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Ideation 1

Scalable methods for analyzing buildings data are needed

Data manipulation methodologies that might combine statistical analysis, pattern recognition, and data visualization using disparate but potentially related data sources to provide innovative insights for building control systems operation do not exist. Such insights might include, for example, the identification of fault conditions, their causes and predicted time periods via correlations between various information ...more »

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19 votes
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Ideation 1

Integrated Home Energy and Budget Management Tool

Homeowners with solar roofs typically have access to tools allowing them to see their solar production in real-time along with production history. However, tools to integrate the solar output and remaining use of conventional electricity into household budgeting practices still lack. By linking solar output, electric and gas consumption and utility tariffs into home budgeting tools such as Mint or bank’s budgeting systems, ...more »

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18 votes
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Ideation 1

Energy Storage and Solar PV

Energy storage is increasingly important driver of the growth of distributed generation systems powered by solar PV. Energy storage can enable both demand charge mitigation and grid reliability and stability that will be critical as solar PV deployments continue to grow. There is a need to efficiently integrate energy storage with solar PV installations.

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17 votes
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Ideation 1

How do I minimize soft costs?

Hardware costs have essentially bottomed out while soft costs remain sky-high in the US residential install market. If I know the array design and product I want, how can I bypass all the customer acquisition, marketing and overhead costs and simply pay for a product and a reasonable install cost?

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17 votes
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Ideation 1

Building Information Modeling (BIM) for building occupants

Currently, it is difficult to represent occupants in buildings, limiting our knowledge of (1) their impact on building energy consumption, (2) their presence during a disastrous event, or even (3) their comfort preferences. The goal of this project is to create an occupant information modeling (OIM) portal, leverage an existing occupant behavior Extensible Markup Language (obXML schema). Similar to BIM, the OIM will be ...more »

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17 votes
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Ideation 1

Islandable Grid-Tied PV Systems

I wish there were a tool or product that allowed me to use electricity from my grid-tied PV system when the grid goes down. Currently, if the grid goes down, my PV system also goes down (to prevent injury to utility workers fixing the power outage). Is it possible to easily and cheaply redirect electricity from my grid-tied modules directly to the loads in my home during a power outage while preventing risk to utility ...more »

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17 votes
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Ideation 1

Solar For Everyone- Solar Power Plants

A major problem with solar is that only about 25% of residential rooftops are capable of hosting solar panels. This is due to shading, structural issues, or ownership- many people live in apartments, or rent space, and do not own their roof. These issues should not prevent them from purchasing solar energy. Unfortunately there are some legislative barriers that prevent this from happening. Fortunately, about 7 states ...more »

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17 votes
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Ideation 1

Time Of Use Marketplace for Solar Power

Why shouldn't solar power farmers get more bucks for their surplus produce during the peak hours? Electric energy is best used when its produced because no storage system can save it with 100% efficiency. The heavy use of electric energy for most residential consumers is during peak sunlight hours which also is the time of peak solar power production. A market place solution which connects the solar energy producers, ...more »

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16 votes
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Ideation 1

Connecting occupant behavior and real-time operations to Building energy model calibration

A detailed building energy model can be the best benchmark indicator of whether a building is meeting energy efficiency performance goals. With modern computing power, it is possible to use such a model on a periodic basis to make such an assessment. One of the biggest challenges of calibrating such a model is parametric input uncertainty. There are hundreds of model parameters that are uncertain to some degree and have ...more »

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16 votes
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Ideation 1

Solar for the Golden Years

The rooftop solar industry needs to recognize that there are consumer market segments with unique motivations and communication channels. Installers need to identify the most promising segments and design sales practices for outreach and targeting. An underserved segment of the solar market is that of retirees. The soon-to-be and recently retired have specific financial, environmental, and social goals. There are looking ...more »

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15 votes
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Ideation 1

Firefighter Online Training

Looking for an online training that is scalable to educate firefighters how to deal with emergencies on buildings with solar PV installed. Advanced simulation (gaming) technology could be an effective way to best reach a firefighters on a national scale.

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15 votes
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Ideation 1

Comparing measured and simulated building performance data

Building performance analysts lack software tools to track and compare measured utility and sub-meter data, particularly with respect to simulation results. This results in an open feedback loop in the industry, with many analysts having a poor understanding of how buildings actually perform with respect to their models. A low cost and flexible way for analysts to catalog and compare simulation results to actual performance ...more »

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15 votes
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Ideation 1

'Google Analytics' for building operations

Commercial building users (operators/occupants) need visual data analysis applications that allow them to manipulate and visualize complex and large technical datasets to detect and display patterns, trends, anomalies, and other vital building efficiency information. Visualization tools must be compact, easy to view and interactive across both mobile and desktop platforms.

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15 votes
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Ideation 1

Sharing the Sun: Solar Power for Tenants and Solar Disadvantaged Homeowners

The home solar PV movement has been booming in the U.S. in recent years but there remains a huge number of Americans with no access to solar power. Of the 80 million owner-occupied properties in the U.S. (67% of total) roughly 25% are well suited for PV installations due to suboptimal roof orientation, shading from trees and infrastructure, or in the case of apartments and condos; there is no ownership of the roof. Few ...more »

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14 votes
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Ideation 1

Data for Validation of Retrofit Audit Simulation Tools

Many building energy simulation tools exist to help determine the most cost effective energy retrofit packages for existing buildings. Evidence indicates that these tools frequently over-predict the base building energy usage and the energy savings from the retrofits. A large database of pre- and post-retrofit energy use data is needed to validate and improve the models and associated model calibration methods. Such a ...more »

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14 votes
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Ideation 1

Solar PV Windows

I wish there would be a type of transparent solar PV materials, which can be stuck to any glass window. Incorporated with energy storage, the window will be expected to absorb solar energy during daytime, and illuminate in the evening to provide lighting for the room.

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14 votes
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Ideation 1

What if there was a one stop shop for information about residential solar?

What if there was a one stop shop for information about residential solar? Currently there is a serious lack of consumer knowledge about solar, causing homeowners to be overcharged or avoid it altogether. Homeowners not only need to assess the system price, they also have to evaluate the warranty offered, the system components like the panels and inverters, the reputation of the company, their financing options, and more ...more »

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14 votes
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Ideation 1

Community Solar Online Platform

Community solar policies are being enacted in many states and localities across the country. These policies allow households that do not own a roof viable for solar panels to access the benefits of solar power from installations at centralized third-party locations. These include renters and tenants of multi-family buildings and amounts to a rough market potential of 75% of American households. As for-profit, non-profit, ...more »

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13 votes
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Ideation 1

One Online Application to Eliminate Mistakes and Cover All Jurisdictions

The primary goal of the SunShot program is to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. To achieve this, a roadmap has been established which calls for (among other things) a substantial reduction in the non-hardware costs of installing residential solar. Among these “soft” costs are those associated with “Permitting, Inspection and Interconnection” (PII): a small, ...more »

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13 votes
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Ideation 1

Scouting rooftops with drones for optimal solar panel placement

Solar now is becoming more and more popular as hardware costs decrease, but soft costs like installation and scouting now aren't decreasing as quickly--thus making up the majority of solar installation costs. One component of the soft costs is scouting for the best place to put solar panels, which is typically done by using a device called Suneye, which calculates the best place to put a solar panel by measuring the ...more »

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13 votes
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Ideation 1

DC Microgrid Controller for Tesla Powerwall and Other Battery Storage Systems

Problem: DC microgrids will play an important role in the sustainable electric infrastructure of the future but currently require a prohibitive amount of expertise and customization for substantial market penetration. Elon Musk announced on April 30th, 2015 that the Tesla Energy battery systems will be open-source (see attached link). I propose building on this open-source technology with a DC-DC converter/controller ...more »

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12 votes
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Ideation 1

Solar Smoothing: cheap, fast, and based upon interoperability

Solar Smoothing: cheap, fast, and based upon the principles of interoperability. Recently highlighted by Duke Energy, the need for interoperability, between vendors, utilities, and customer, is a growing concern. The goal, to connect and control devices that are capable of “talking” to one another and make split-second grid balancing decisions. Historically, grid engineers have addressed this challenge with expensive, ...more »

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12 votes
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Ideation 1

Tapping Small Commerical Rooftop Solar Potential

Small commericial solar installations have lagged behind residential. One problem we see is the disconnect between "owner" and "occupant" incentives of the commercial spaces, in which the owner would qualify for solar incentives/tax credits but does not pay energy bills, and the occupant pays bills but is not the owner of the structure. Perhaps there is a new financial model that bridges this divide and could capitalize ...more »

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12 votes
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Ideation 1

Simple Toggle Switch - Grid vs Home

It would be great if there was a toggle switch on a solar installation that could direct the electricity to the grid for net metering or the home for use. This would allow people to use net-metering for example if they are on vacation. It also will allow direct use if net metering laws change and it becomes more advantageous to use the electricity directly. This idea should be combined with two already existing suggestions ...more »

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12 votes
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Ideation 1

Utility participation in distributed PV financing

Allowing T&D utilities to provide customer financing for distributed solar investment would incentivize utilities, accelerate and simplify PV integration onto the distribution grid and help them reinforce their customer relationships

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11 votes
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Ideation 1

K-12 Solar Curriculum

Grade, middle, and high schools – plus their higher education partners – are realizing the financial, social, and environmental benefits of going solar. This opens an extraordinary opportunity to also fulfill their primary objectives: education. A fleshed out online curriculum – working with cutting edge data and modeling tools – should be developed to guide students to learn about, design, and get hands-on experience ...more »

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11 votes
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Ideation 1

Building operations do not account for occupant behaviors

Commercial building operations need ways of identifying, measuring, anticipating and responding to occupant behaviors that affect operational outcomes. Occupant energy behaviors must be represented in a standard way in Building Automation System (BAS) user interfaces, and BAS systems must include capabilities for dynamically detecting occupancy and energy-related actions and assessing occupant comfort alongside building ...more »

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11 votes
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Ideation 1

Energy efficiency accountability for tenants

There is little accountability for energy efficiency on the part of lessee tenant occupants who do not pay utility bills in their buildings. This is true in both the large residential and commercial sectors. There needs to be a way to bring accountability into lease agreements to give the occupants incentive for energy-efficient behavior. A shared savings approach to ESCO agreements could be one way to do this. This could ...more »

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10 votes
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Ideation 1

Platform for Financing and Connecting DIY Solar Projects

One of the biggest challenges in the solar market is the high cost of residential PV systems. The cost of silicon technologies has fallen dramatically, but the dependency and cost of technical expertise is still too high. To reduce these soft costs, there is a need to develop technologies that are not only easy to operate for consumers, but that also can be purchased “off-the-shelf” at reasonable prices. Assuming “DIY” ...more »

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10 votes
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Ideation 1

The Quantified Install: From Boots on the Roof to Sensor atop the Structure

UPS has increased their drivers’ productivity by a third by sensorizing, monitoring, measuring, and rethinking every step, every trip, every signature, every motion. Saving a small amount of time can add up to a larger amount of money. NPR’s Planet Money team recently broadcast a fantastic piece about how technology and productivity go hand in glove (see URL). In the solar space, time and motion studies of the U.S. and ...more »

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10 votes
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Ideation 1

open source website reports on all energy incentives

A simple site that allows anyone the ability to find incentives for solar, wind , storage, geothermal, LED, nocturnal, geothermal, solar hot water, super hot water heaters, EV's,EVSE, smart grid charging,fleet, hydrogen and other alt fuel cell incentives, v2v,v2g,v2g and m2m.

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10 votes
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Ideation 1

Making Solar Attractive

Residential solar is ugly. If there were solar products that made installing solar attractive, and affordable, adoption wouldn't be such a barrier in regular American neighborhoods. For example build solar technology into shingles; integrate solar technology into everyday outdoor structures.

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10 votes
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Ideation 1

Community Solar Project Finder: enable quick & easy investment

I wish that I could go to a single website that would allow me to see all the planned community solar projects in my area and allow me to easily invest in them. Like many people, I don't have an adequate rooftop for solar PV. I'd like to be able to invest in solar and take advantage of virtual net metering, but it's not obvious how to do so. I also don't want to have to spend time finding and talking to all the project ...more »

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10 votes
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Ideation 1

Solar Project Tools and Modeling for Users

Potential solar PV users do not have an efficient means to easily analyze and assess solar system development at their sites. These users will benefit from improved access to solar project tools and modeling through simplified user interfaces and portals to manipulate underlying project parameters.

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9 votes
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Ideation 1

Expand the pool of solar investors for community solar projects

I wish there was a way for small investors, such as myself, to invest directly into a community solar project, receive a return based on the energy that is produced, and get the tax benefits associated with solar. Unfortunately, only wealthy “accredited investors” are allowed to invest directly into solar projects. These projects produce steady returns for investors. Instead, the small investor must settle for buying ...more »

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