The Orange Button Initiative was started recently to drive down the cost of distributed solar energy finance and facilitate data interchange. This initiative is promoted by a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy Sunshot Initiative and the SunSpec Alliance, gaining significant traction in the solar PV and energy storage market. The conference helps bring together key developers in the industry to collaborate, unveil exciting technology, dive into the details of the Orange Button taxonomy and API’s, and highlight the successes of early adopters. 3megawatt was invited to talk about our relationship to Orange Button, where North America’s lead customer manager Brendan Cook discussed “How automated data interchange can help reduce the effort of monthly reporting.” Brendan came back with lots of great insight and here are his top 3 impressions from the conference.
1. It’s time to treat solar like banking.
Overall there was a great demand to bring the solar industry into the future with layered, standardized financial reporting, and structure. Standardization and the Orange Button Taxonomy is a huge aspect of this. There is a distinct pursuit among industry players to adopt an information standard that allows computer systems to work together and exchange information more fluidly. Enabling flexibility makes individual systems and systems as a whole far more powerful. In the end reducing cost, promoting technology and innovation, and accelerating industry growth.
2. Investors and buyers need better solar project assurance
Financial reporting is becoming more strict in the solar industry this was made a very clear priority. The Orange Button Initiative is widely supported by the industry and companies are spending millions of dollars chasing after reportable and reliable data. The initiative focuses on getting data ‘right’ from the start so that it can flow through to an investor or potential project sale acting as a more effective way to evaluate and communicate about solar projects.
3. Non-standardized reporting is costly
It seemed that the consent on non-standardized reporting is that it costs way too much, adding to the primary cost of solar project development, soft costs. With soft costs having a major impact on solar development there is a lot of work that can be done. The issue is not one that can be ignored if the goal is to make solar cost competitive with traditional forms of electricity. When data is not reliable not only does it make communication difficult among teams but it also stifles informed decision making. Some ways to drive down these costs would be to implement the Orange Button standard and taxonomy allowing systems and people to access the information that is necessary to stay competitive. Here is a list of data standards and objectives prioritized by SunSpec and the Orange Button Initiatives.