RMI tool helps businesses pick the right spot for solar

In real estate, the concept is easy to grasp. If your hotel isn’t anywhere near where people want to be, well, you’re unlikely to succeed no matter how opulent the lobby. While the same is true of solar installations – if it’s not built in the right place, maximizing its production will be near impossible – businesses have a harder time understanding why.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and its Business Renewables Center (BRC) are hoping the new software platform they launched last week can bridge the gap.

“Big business is proving its commitment to climate action and renewable energy on the world stage,” said Hervé Touati, managing director at RMI. “In 65% of the United States it’s possible to source wind and solar directly but, much like real estate, these renewable energy deals hinge on ‘location, location, location.’ “

In a nutshell, the platform takes public data, a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) calculation, and a proprietary algorithm to give business owners an idea of how much money the project will make. Using the program, business owners can find optimal project sites for around 4,300 grid connection points from all seven U.S. independent system operators (ISOs) in 39 states.

The program is currently available only to the more than 200 members of the BRC.

“Twenty years ago, many companies saw potential value in creating online business platforms but lacked the necessary skills and knowledge to do so,” said Stephen Abbott, manager at RMI and project manager of the market analysis platform. “In similar fashion today, companies are starting to recognize the value of a flexible, low-carbon energy strategy, but many have little experience with energy markets. Though our software platform, BRC is working to streamline corporate procurement by bringing a new level of transparency to the industry.”