Genability’s Sunshot Project

We recently announced that Genability was selected as a SunShot Awardee by the U.S. Department of Energy.  But what are we building?

“What’s my utility bill with solar?”

It’s a deceptively simple question which actually takes Solar Providers (Developers, Installers, Financiers) a large amount of time and pain (and money) to figure out. It’s called solar Avoided Cost, or the amount of energy that you avoid buying from your electric utility because it’s provided by your PV system.  Put another way, Avoided Cost is how much your  electricity bill is reduced by when you get power from a solar system.

Solar Avoided Cost

To accurately calculate solar Avoided Cost you need to know a number of things: 1) how much energy the solar system generates (production), 2) how much energy you use (consumption), 3) available utility rates (called tariffs), and 4) all the rules dictating the value of your solar energy production. At its core, our project aims to build the fastest, most accurate, and most comprehensive Avoided Cost engine. It will automatically calculate how much is saved, figure out the optimal utility tariff to be on, fully support net metering, and inform the solar system sizing process, all in milliseconds. The engine will be flexible so it can be embedded in or integrated with existing solar websites, apps, and tools.

Precise Tariffs

Genability already has the most comprehensive national database of utility tariffs.  The Avoided Cost engine will leverage this data, but it will be augmented with the intelligence to sift through varying levels of solar production, utility tariffs and elections, and net metering rules and constraints, to arrive at the configuration that yields the most value for the energy produced by a solar system.

Energy Usage

How much power you consume and when can really change your energy costs (especially if you are a business), so solar system sizing and tariff choice should be specifically driven by this information.  However, obtaining granular usage data quickly is a challenge for Solar Providers. We’re here to help. Where usage data is available (like GreenButton data from your utility), we’ll make it easy to access. Where it isn’t, we’ll introduce sophisticated techniques to generate a dynamic usage profile based on what we know about the potential system host. We’ll also determine typical usage and electricity costs for the whole country down to the zip code level. This is of particular importance during the marketing and sales process, as it provides instant national visibility to Solar Providers of where PV makes economic sense.

Solar System Generation

While our Avoided Cost tools will not perform site specific solar assessments or PV system sizing, we’ll make it easy to integrate with existing tools such as NREL’s PVWatts and SAM, and other best in class commercial tools.  Importing, exporting, and manipulating solar production curves from external systems will be simple.

The Goal

SunShot’s goal is to reduce the cost of installed solar PV to $1 per Watt at scale, by 2020. Our goal is to put a sizable dent in the soft costs, or non-hardware costs, of solar; up to 30% of the costs incurred in the sales process to be precise.  To do this we’ll streamline the solar sales process, optimize every deal, and increase sales conversions.

Product development will begin immediately and is scheduled to be completed by June 2013.  If you are a solar provider, installer or financier and are interested in providing valuable input to our development process or want to be kept up to date on our progress, please email us at


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