3 Critical Challenges Facing the Growing Solar, Wind & Clean Tech Sector

New figures from leading analyst firms are showing an increased investment in the global clean tech market in 2014, driven primarily by investments in solar and wind energy (which accounted for more than 90 per cent of 2014’s overall clean tech spend). According to the UNEP’s 9th “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment” report, 2014 saw green energy investments worldwide jump about 17% to $270.2 billion. That’s an increased share of total world electricity generation from 8.5% in 2013 to 9.1% last year.

With Growth Comes Both Opportunities & Challenges

As the industry continues to experience growth as a result of these increasing investments, those companies in the clean tech business are facing many opportunities but also many challenges. Some of these challenges are unique to the sector, while others are shared across other emerging industries and growing companies. Here are three of the big hurdles that solar, wind and other clean tech companies will need to address in order to realize continued success in the competitive energy market.

1. Managing International Regulatory Compliance

While there is a great deal of investment taking place within the United States, there are also widespread opportunities for renewable energy projects outside of North America, with “unprecedented expansion in China and Asia” in the solar sector, according to the UNEP’s report. In addition, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP Achim Steiner notes that “the growing penetration of renewable generation in the world’s developing economies is one of the important and encouraging aspects of the 2014 report.” Brazil, India and South Africa all ranked in the top 10 investing countries.

What this means for companies in this sector is that as they expand and adapt to meet the demands of the global market, they will be operating in a very diverse set of regulatory landscapes. Project-driven organizations in particular will have to face the challenge of identifying, managing and meeting regulations that can differ greatly from region to region.

2. Sharing Information Across a Growing Company

As the industry expands and companies grow to meet the demand, many will find that they outgrow their previous ways of doing business. Paper-based systems and Excel spreadsheets will no longer be able to keep up with evolving business demands, such as real-time access to critical data and the need to communicate efficiently across multiple locations. Additionally, accommodating multiple language requirements across site locations can complicate information-sharing in this stage of growth, and there may also be a need to simplify the presentation of key information for decision-makers that can often become increasingly further removed from day-to-day operations. The businesses that are able to evolve their information-sharing processes and systems in keeping with these challenges are the businesses that will thrive under these new circumstances.

3. Developing the Efficiencies & Competitive Advantages for Continued Growth

The UNEP’s report notes that each dollar invested in solar and wind in 2014 bought significantly more generating capacity than in previous years, primarily due to a continuing sharp decline in technology costs. Great news!

Yet while the industry should be excited by this trend and many others in their marketplace, companies that are looking to emerge as leaders over the next decade are still looking for ways to set themselves apart and increase their margins however they can. Investor confidence can be shaken by policy uncertainty, and renewable power must still compete with conventional generation sources on a cost basis. This is why it will be essential for clean energy companies to take advantage of opportunities to increase efficiencies and reduce risk across their organization wherever possible.

Meeting the Challenges Ahead

It’s for reasons like the above that clean energy companies like NRG, the largest solar power developer in the United States, have turned to solutions like Intelex to manage essential corporate information. A Fortune 250 company, NRG supports clean energy resources and technologies that are a critical component of the movement towards sustainable, low carbon societies. As of June 2014, NRG powers nearly 2.5 million homes at full output with wind and solar energy. They use Intelex to track and measure their environmental key performance indicators in additional to health and safety incident information.

“Using Intelex has made environmental data easy to access and transparent, and has allowed NRG to focus on continual improvement and not data management,” says Laura Scott, NRG Environmental Manager.

About Intelex

In addition to simplifying the management of EHS incident information and tracking compliance requirements, Intelex’s solutions for the renewable and clean energy sector include inspection management software, risk management software and other tailored solutions. For more information, visit www.intelex.com or email intelex@intelex.com.

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