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Contributed by Locus Energy
December 13, 2013

Distributed solar PV is growing explosively in the United States. Driven by solar PV module price reductions, the rising cost of grid-tied electricity and the growth of innovative financing models, the nation’s solar PV capacity could rise five-fold to 50 gigawatts or more by 2017, with 20 to 30 of that consisting of distributed generation, one of the key solar growth drivers, according to a recent report from Deutsche Bank. The report states that solar PV is already at grid parity in 10 U.S. states without additional subsidies.

Locus Energy, whose business is providing hardware and software monitoring solutions for more than 25,000 residential, commercial and utility-scale solar PV systems, has addressed these issues by developing a cloud-based enterprise asset management platform for owners and operators of solar PV fleets called SolarNOC™ (Network Operation Center). SolarNOC™ helps fleet managers streamline O&M and financial administration activities by aggregating, organizing and assessing performance data across a diverse set of solar PV assets.

In addition to SolarNOC™, Locus Energy also offers a proprietary analytics platform called PVIQ Suite™ that provides fleet owners and operators with a much-needed means of evaluating how the actual performance of a solar PV asset ranks against expected performance, and then drills down into the specific causes for a system’s deviation from expectations. This powerful risk-mitigation tool has two main elements: the Virtual Irradiance (VI) tool and the Waterfall analysis.

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Anne Fischer, Reporter, Solar Novus Today
November 23, 2013

PV monitoring systems are software-driven devices that track the performance of a solar energy installation. They vary in terms of what they track and how it’s displayed, but most provide real-time and historical data, performance-based alerts, web-based (or cellular) monitoring and some give details on weather and some let you customize the presentation. For businesses that monitor a fleet of installations, many allow for multi-site tracking and comparisons. Monitoring systems range in capabilities from those that are able to monitor residential (up to 20 kW) and small commercial installations (up to 100 kW) all the way up to utility-scale, multi-megawatt projects. Because the tools are very different from one end of the spectrum to the other, we’ll focus here on the residential to small commercial monitoring systems.

Brehaut said that there are two ways to measure success in this market: number of megawatts or number of systems monitored. The market is split into four distinct segments: residential, small commercial, large commercial and utility-scale; with three vendor categories: independent monitoring firms like DECK Monitoring, Locus Energy, lease providers like SolarCity, SunPower and Sunrun, inverter suppliers like Enphase and SMA. Therefore, there is not one but many leaders. For example Brehaut’s report identified DECK Monitoring as the US leading independent monitoring provider in the small and large commercial segments, while Enphase leads in the residential market. The markets are so stratified with local requirements, cultural differences and financial schemes, that each geographic area has its own leader.

Other advances in PV monitoring will be seen in communication methods and the potential for new or more sophisticated applications. For example, some manufacturers are now offering monitoring systems that communicate over the cellular network rather than over the Internet. This can be more reliable, especially in the event that the Internet connection is lost (or a homeowner unplugs their router). Some, like the LGate smart meters from Locus Energy, offer both cellular and Ethernet connections. It also enables service technicians to get data from a cell phone no matter where they are.

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Chris Martin, Reporter, Bloomberg
November 21, 2013

Andrew Greenfield checks his home’s solar power output against consumption through his computer and mobile phone dozens of times each day. The IBM (IBM) storage engineer enjoys trying to match the power he consumes to heat his pool in Arizona with what he produces during the day from the panels on his roof.

The same rooftop solar providers that are threatening utility revenues are more than just occupying customer roofs—they’re inside the home, monitoring usage trends and adapting the systems to meet both the homeowner’s needs and their own bottom lines.

SolarCity, Sunrun, SunPower (SPWR), and Locus Energy are amassing billions of points of data in smart home systems that consumers love and that baffle utilities, many of which have no incentive to help consumers manage their power usage more efficiently.

“We have an algorithm that tracks the clouds designed by a Ph.D. from Stanford,” says Adrian De Luca, vice president in charge of sales at Hoboken (N.J.)-based Locus Energy, which monitors more than 25,000 solar systems in the U.S. and Canada. “We can tell from across the country whether performance isn’t up to specifications for whatever reasons,” De Luca says. “The utilities should want this data.”

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Anne Fischer, Reporter, Solar Novus Today
October 28, 2013

Nearly 12,000 solar professionals gathered last week in Chicago at Solar Power International. Through conference sessions, trade show exhibits and networking events, it was clear that this industry overcome challenges and is now gaining traction. In the opening session, Rhone Resch, President and CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association said “Welcome to the big leagues.”

With all the various types of monitoring systems, the industry has moved well beyond the why and how of solar and is now examining exactly what is happening with specific installations. AlsoEnergy recently acquired Deck Monitoring and announced that it will continue with both product lines targeted at commercial and utility-scale PV. Skytron’s solution goes beyond operations and management (O&M) of PV plants and into what Murad Can, Vice President Global Customer Operations at Skytron calls “energy efficiency management,” using algorithms for diagnosis and control. Santerno is an Italian O&M company that introduced PV Power Plant Controller that offers remote control on-web diagnostics. And Locus Energy provides residential solar monitoring solutions up to customized dashboards for managing fleets of solar assets.

Triangle Business Journal
Lauren Ohnesorge, Staff Writer, Triangle Business Journal
September 23, 2013

A technology company with Investor’s Circle backing was just acquired by an energy software firm.

Locus Energy, a New Jersey-based technology firm that monitors solar panel performance and provides data analytics was acquired by Kentucky software firm Genscape.

Investor’s Circle, which has its headquarters at American Underground in downtown Durham, first saw Locus entrepreneurs presenting at an event four years ago in Philadelphia.

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Frank Andorka, Reporter, Solar Power World
September 23, 2013

As we’ve written before, solar monitoring is an absolute must for any new solar installation. Now Locus Energy has given installers two new options to do just that.

Locus Energy has launched the LGate 120 and 320 — its next generation of smart meters designed to allow solar installers and asset managers to more easily collect, monitor and analyze performance data from both residential and light commercial solar PV systems.

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Solar Novus Today
September 13, 2013

Locus Energy has launched the LGate 120 and 320 -- its next generation of smart meters designed to allow solar installers and asset managers to more easily collect, monitor and analyze performance data from both residential and light commercial solar PV systems.

Together with Locus Energy's web-based SolarOS monitoring platform, the new meters enable solar fleet operators to efficiently gather data for troubleshooting, asset optimization and performance guarantee/billing functions.

Until recently, cellular socket meters available for PV monitoring have been mainly repurposed utility meters, which have focused on consumption and demand as opposed to the PV industry's requirements. Locus Energy reports that the LGate 120 and 320 are the first cellular smart meters designed specifically to measure the performance of PV installations. Both units can communicate directly with inverters to collect additional AC and DC data points as well as fault code information, which is key to lowering O&M costs over a fleet of systems. In addition, the new meters can plug directly into local area networks via Ethernet when the cellular signal is not strong enough at a given location. 

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Cedric Brehaut, Reporter, GreenTech Media
August 20, 2013

Locus Energy is out with a new product that expands solar monitoring capabilities.

Innovation is rare in the solar PV monitoring space, where the difference between competing products is often based on detailed features and functions, leaving the impression that all solutions are very similar. But the latest product announcement from Locus Energy has made a big splash and may change the game in the U.S. residential PV monitoring market.

In other words, so far U.S. PV system owners and operators have had to choose between Locus, a feature-rich metering and monitoring platform with reliability issues due to its dependency on the homeowner’s network, or another monitoring platform based on Itron, a highly reliable cellular metering solution with limited data and little troubleshooting capability. The Lgate 120 product announced by Locus today seems to resolve this dilemma.

The new Lgate 120 could lead the way for a new generation of residential PV metering and monitoring hardware for solar leasing and power purchase agreement firms.

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Hermin K. Trabish, Reporter, GreenTech Media
February 16, 2013

A waterfall of data could cut solar O&M costs.

“What is unique about our service,” explained Locus Energy VP Adrian De Luca, “is that we take that data and combine it with proprietary analytics.” Computer screen dashboards that monitor renewable energy systems and report field data are now commonplace. Locus Energy believes it has an edge there.

“Virtual irradiance,” said De Luca, “is a calculation engine that runs every fifteen minutes and will tell the user how much sunlight is hitting the ground anywhere in the continental U.S. with a one-kilometer-by-one-kilometer resolution.”

“What is different about the Locus formula,” he explained, "is that every five minutes, as we get a reading from the field, we also generate an identical value for expected performance, and so there is a constant true-up of what happened and what should have happened.”

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