For the first time in history, solar as a business model has set a record for being cost effective. The market opportunity is significant as solar has demonstrated returns on ROI in multiple markets around the world. Solar could soon become the least expensive power on earth.
One major market in the United States is the consumer space: markets naturally drive themselves towards projects that deliver positive financial returns over the long-haul. Innovation in the IoT-meets-solar space is booming. Here are 3 trends that show how the two worlds are converging:
One emerging IoT company is proposing solar energy as a battery replacement for IoT devices.
As Freddie Roberts explains in Internet of Business:
“The product is known as Light Energy. It aims to harvest the energy power of solar to replace the growing use of, and waste associated with, the millions of batteries that currently power IoT devices – soon to be 20 billion according to some estimates.
Instead, Tryst Energy claims to have produced a model that will enable IoT devices to be powered for 75 to 100 years, at the very least, through solar energy.”
The implications of this technology, at scale, are massive. Imagine a world in which homes are self-sufficient and entirely powered by solar. With sparse budgets, developing organizations want to make responsible decisions and invest in technologies that make sense. The organic merger of IoT + solar deliver evergreen cost-saving measures with no expiration date.
New Product Image via Tryst Energy
A now 8-year-old startup, still in its early stages, created technology to reharvest previously wasted technology.
Take a look at LightSail Energy. The company’s value proposition on its homepage speaks for itself:
“We aim to produce the world’s cleanest and most economical storage systems. Compressing air creates heat energy. Until now, this was wasted, drastically reducing efficiency.”
LightSail has created technology that captures otherwise wasted heat energy and regenerates it into useful energy. The website elaborates:
“We inject a fine, dense mist of water spray which rapidly absorbs the heat energy of compression and provides it during expansion.”
"During expansion, the stored heat is sprayed into the air and converted back into mechanical energy." Image via LightSail Energy
Imagine the marketing opportunity that this technology will open up. Solar may have another renewable energy source to join forces with and build upon. Home IoT devices may help with commercial grade IoT projects such as energy harvesting for agriculture.
Even bigger? LightSail has a vision that could rebuild renewable energy infrastructure at scale.
“LightSail believes that a low-cost grid-scale energy storage solution holds the key to unlocking the true potential of increasingly competitive renewable energies, optimizing power grids, democratizing access to energy, and helping to make the world a safer and better place for future generations."
When planning IoT capabilities for the long-term future, solar companies will need to plan for multiple new sources of renewable energy. Wind and solar are just the beginning, as evidenced by LightSail, which has been in its nascent stages as a company since its founding in 2009.
One IoT Startup is creating completely-connected smart homes.
Here’s how one corporate innovation services firm, that helps corporations build accelerators and partner with startups, explains the market opportunity and the role of one example company, IOTAS:
“The connected smart home device market in the U.S. is already worth $50 billion — and some estimates suggest that it will reach $121 billion by 2022. IOTAS is a connected-home company that's taking on Amazon and Google by targeting a very specific segment of home dwellers: renters. It's a smart move, since at least 68 percent of millennials are currently renting. IOTAS works with real estate developers to outfit apartments with smart devices to make operating lights, thermostats and other connected devices a breeze. It's a win-win-win: landlords get a new amenity to tout (plus a 10 percent share of revenues from their renters' IOTAS services), renters get the convenience of a ready-to-go smart home, and IOTAS gets a built-in customer base.”
The demand for solar energy is strong, resulting in panels being deployed for a number of wide-ranging consumer applications:
- GPS sensors
- Marine analysis
- Water level monitoring
- Water quality monitors
- Radiation detectors
In home settings, IoT + solar will help people keep close watch over weather-related, geological, and other natural patterns. Algorithms will provide threat detection patterns.
Builders and consumers have the potential to become a much larger customer segment of solar panel buyers.
A list of hardware found in IOTAS smart homes. Image via IOTAS
Solar + IoT is one of the biggest market opportunities in the United States, today. It’s not just innovative tech — it’s foundational. Just take a look at ElectriCChain, an open source project “dedicated to the intersection of solar energy, IoT, and Blockchain technology.”
“One of the ElectriCChain’s goals is to connect the world’s 7 million solar facilities, watching the skies 24/7 and posting live data to one Blockchain for scientists, researchers and human progress.”
The solar + IoT market story is still in its nascent stages. As Chain of Things puts it:
“Dubbed the 4th industrial revolution, the ‘Internet of Things’ will consist of a vast network of sensor nodes that will generate an unprecedented flow of global data. These devices will quietly execute smart contracts with physical actuators that will manage many aspects of our future lives.”
As renewable energy becomes more cost-effective, IoT will begin to take shape as the layer that connects the dots between efficiency and resource allocation. Solar will be the backbone.
Today's solar galaxy integrates the home with sustainable tools for the everyday. Image via Chain of Things