You might see sunshine, but James Kocher, Project Manager at Locus Energy, sees data. Lots of it. A graduate of the Earth Institute Sustainability Management (MS) program at Columbia University, Kocher recalls the words of his professor, "Director Steven Cohen would frequently remind us... 'you can't manage what you don't measure' and that is what big data is ultimately going to solve." Photovoltaics, what most people still call "solar panels," are gaining market share. In the first quarter of 2015 more than half of all new generation capacity brought online was solar, eclipsing natural gas. As solar power scales up, managing efficiency becomes important. Solar panels can be precisely controlled and monitored akin to a computer network to increase performance. As costs go down, more people adopt. "With regard to solar, big data is the key to increasing system production," Kocher explains.
His interest in this area lead him to return to school at the Earth Institute where his study included modeling complex systems. After a few years at Mars, where some of his work revolved around the design and implementation of more sustainable packaging, he joined Locus. Kocher's vision of our rapidly expanding solar infrastructure isn't just about peak performance, but economics as well. Precise and accurate streamlining of energy systems also allows for better risk management. Stable investments in solar assets will propel the industry as a whole. Kocher predicts "securitized loans or bonds accurately priced based on risk using the historical data provided by companies like Locus Energy."