Future-Proofing Clean Energy Operations: Scaling sustainably through software

Clean energy growth continues to outpace projections. By early 2025, renewable energy sources are projected to contribute over 33 percent of the world's total electricity generation. While exact growth rates remain in flux and often are under-forecasted, projected solar and wind additions are expected to more than double by 2028compared to 2022, reaching nearly 710 gigawatts. 

Growth is accelerating in both the United States and the European Union, driven by the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and EU policy incentives at the country level that support decarbonization and energy security goals. 

In the US, the IRA unlocked new financing mechanisms and introduced certainty to the market, mitigating boom and bust development cycles for the next decade. The industry shifted focus to the next bottleneck: transmission permitting and long interconnection queues. Fortunately, that barrier is quickly eroding, too, through actions of the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the White House

sunset power lines

Why scalable software is critical to the clean energy transition

Increased investment, favorable policies, and a rising demand for clean energy have owners and operators expanding their operations, diversifying their asset portfolios, and innovating their business models. It is an exciting time to be in renewables. But, as growth continues, the challenge of scaling up looms large.

To meet our ambitious net-zero goals and transition the world away from fossil fuels, our industry needs scalable clean energy management software designed to help organizations grow even more quickly and cost-effectively. Put simply, the software must help companies increase megawatts under management while decreasing dollars spent per megawatt.

But most of today’s software solutions are not built for the substantial growth predicted, leaving owners and operators vulnerable. Many solutions simply can’t keep up; only software architected to scale can reliably address the challenges presented by big data, the need for automation, and rapid change.

Don’t let data become a liability 

The clean energy industry faces many archetypal big data challenges related to volume, velocity, veracity, and variety. Wielded properly, big data is powerful. Fumbled, big data is a liability, increasing the risk of missing important details and making costly decisions. 

Across the industry, much time is spent attempting to determine if data can be trusted — or trying to access the right data (your data!) when it is needed. Meanwhile, teams forced to manage increasingly large and diverse portfolios across multiple geographies spend more time on routine data processing and reporting and less time on higher-value strategic activities that increase clean energy production and drive revenue in the real world.

Since staying on top of big data manually is impossible, not to mention a terrible waste of a human brain, renewable energy software must automate data management elegantly. It needs to handle the volume of data that comes with expansion and make sense of the noisy influx, turning data into information, knowledge, and insights. Otherwise, more data becomes a liability.

A system that is built from the ground up to automate data cleaning and deliver trustworthy insights at scale is worth its weight in gold; it searches the haystack for you and delivers the needle neatly on command. It shows its work visually, transparently building trust. 

Harnessing automation and artificial intelligence

A foundation of trusted data supports downstream analytics, leading to more accurate insights and recommendations. And, to scale efficiently, organizations need tools that help them do more with less. This is where automation comes in. 

Renewable energy management software should automate most analytics in an auditable and configurable way, freeing up teams to spend time on those requiring human ingenuity. Done right, automation turns everyone into an expert, enabling the average user to focus on higher-value tasks. Meanwhile, hiring is hard, expertise limited, and training, time-consuming. Good software reduces the level of experience needed to perform good work. For many tasks, just do what the computer tells you to.

This is where the promise of integrated artificial intelligence (AI) analytics comes in. AI analytics leverage advanced data science methods to produce valuable insights that surpass human capability, either because humans could not generate the insights on their own or because the AI generates them much faster than a human can. Because of this, AI analytics represent opportunities to increase availability, reduce losses, produce more clean energy, and increase the value of energy produced, increasing revenue.

software code

Adapting to rapid change

A scalable platform with robust data management and built-in automation is essential to the success of the industry. But without the ability to adapt and grow with the business, the solution will have limited impact. Black-box vendors and proprietary, antiquated databases cannot evolve with businesses as quickly as the energy transition requires. Instead, software architectures must be resilient, adapting alongside organizations and empowering them to pursue additional market opportunities and address emerging challenges, hastening the pace of innovation.

What are some of the key characteristics of an adaptable system? It should be cloud- and microservices-based, prioritizing flexibility and configurability and avoiding vendor lock-in. It should offer a suite of interoperable, purpose-built applications that deliver accelerated time-to-value, and it should integrate seamlessly with the customer’s pre-existing ecosystem of business applications. Then, when a critical controls vendor goes bankrupt, an owner chooses self-perform operations and maintenance (O&M), or an asset manager spins up an energy trading desk, the software can easily expand to support these changes. Industry changes drive business model innovation, which requires technology innovation.

To stay competitive during this next phase of growth, organizations require scalable renewable energy management software that delivers trustworthy data, automates as much as possible, and is adaptable and resilient as industry and business conditions shift. Only software built with the future in mind will effectively empower industry players to scale their fleets and transition the world to clean energy.


Will Troppe is Director of Product at Power Factors, which provides best-in-class solutions across the entire asset lifecycle.

Power Factors | powerfactors.com





Author: Will Troppe