Raptor Maps hosted its first-ever conference, RaptorCon, last week in Austin, Texas. The conference brought together top industry leaders who shared unique and tech-forward approaches to the solar industry’s problems.

Over the course of a day and a half, the speakers and panelists covered a remarkable breadth of material and insights. Speaker highlights are noted below.

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Raptor Maps Cofounders Discuss Digitization, Emerging Tech

Raptor Maps Cofounders Nikhil Vadhavkar and Eddie Obropta held a session highlighting key forces driving digitization in the solar industry: rising competitive pressures, increased funding for solar projects, and demand for data transparency. The Raptor Maps cofounders also discussed emerging technologies that will enable future advancements in the solar industry’s digital landscape, such as how a robust system of record paired with API-enabled applications can provide the continuity and data standardization required for stakeholders across the project lifecycle.


Raptor Maps CRO Explores Financial Repercussions of Anomalies

Raptor Maps CRO James Wagstaff gave a preview of Raptor Maps’ forthcoming Annual Global Report, citing statistics from the report showing that power loss from anomalies on solar farms has grown by 92% over the last 5 years and 14% year-over-year. The annual financial impact from that power loss is conservatively estimated at around $82 million of lost revenue.


Citi Managing Director Dives Into Clean Energy Financing

Arash Nazhad, Managing Director on Citi’s Global Clean Energy Technology team, delivered the keynote at RaptorCon. Nazhad discussed the evolving landscape of clean energy financing, emphasizing that the forecast has only gotten brighter for the solar industry given rapid innovations in solar PV technology and costs, advancements in storage technology, and the massive pipeline of solar projects. Compared to “Clean Tech 1.0”, there is significant capital committed from diverse sources to enable that pipeline. Nazhad also noted that it is no longer a question if clean energy companies will dominate public markets, but rather who is poised to emerge as leaders in the space.


VDE Americas Engineer Emphasizes Technical Due Diligence

VDE Americas Senior Principal Engineer Jon Previtali spoke about the importance of robust technical due diligence in solar project finance to increase ROI, noting that solar projects are underperforming relative to expectations. Previtali dove into how clearer scoping of technical due diligence can set clear expectations with project sponsors and stakeholders, and how testing should be done to ensure the project is operating as designed and modeled.


JinkoSolar Engineer Highlights the Riches of Thermographic Data

JinkoSolar Senior Sales Application Engineer Michael Amati presented on the evolution of thermography and innovations unlocked by reliable thermographic data. Amati explored how the growth of aerial thermography creates massive labor efficiency and safety benefits, as well as an opportunity to establish a global standard of leveraging high-quality inspections across project stakeholders. Amati also touched on how the data from inspections results in an efficiency boost in warranty claims and said that Jinko’s warranty claims workflow through the Raptor Solar platform has resulted in up to a 90% reduction in manufacturer review time.


Panelists Discuss Digital Solutions for Managing Solar Assets

RaptorCon also hosted a panel devoted to the various digital options —including GIS, APIs, and digital twins — for managing solar assets. The panel was made up of the Head of Digital Hub for Business Development at Enel North America Keith Aubin; Director, Asset Management at Madison Energy Investments Chioma Enechukwa; Arevon Energy Senior Asset Manager Lakshmi Nandakumar; and VP of Engineering at Greenbacker Capital Fernando Rodriguez. Panelists discussed the importance of tying in revenue and financial impact to solar asset management workflows, such as prioritizing remediation and maintenance efforts, and how insights can be scaled via data standardization and use of APIs.


Nevados CCO Explores Challenges of Scaling the Solar Industry

Nevados Chief Commercial Officer Jenya Meydbray shared his perspective on the headwinds the solar industry faces as it rapidly scales in a fireside chat with Raptor Maps CEO and Cofounder Nikhil Vadhavkar. Meydbray discussed what he sees as the drivers of underperformance when compared to financial projections, and how owners and developers can better plan and conduct diligence to improve economies over the project lifecycle.


VC Head Talks About Climate Tech Investment Landscape

Amy Francetic, Managing General Partner and Co-Founder of Buoyant Ventures, touched on the trends driving digital climate technology innovations and the importance of focusing on both adaptation and mitigation strategies to combat climate change. Francetic also gave an overview of what Buoyant Ventures, which is a leader in the climate tech space and a Raptor Maps investor, typically looks for in winning investments.


Enel Head of Risk Highlights Promises of Drone-in-a-Box

Enel North America’s Head of Industrial Risk & Cross Technology Improvement Bill Badnaruk spoke in-depth about drone-in-a-box technology and how it is expected to have a huge impact on solar farm operations. Badnaruk said that drone-in-a-box presents massive benefits such as consistent data captures, automated data workflows, reduction in labor hours, and scheduled flights. Although the drone industry has high levels of competition, Badnaruk also shared his perspective on the manufacturers who have established themselves as leaders in the Drone-in-a-Box market.


Sustainability Architect Shares on Amazon’s Investment in Renewable Energy

Guyu Ye, Sustainability Application Architect at Amazon Web Services, shared Amazon’s sustainability journey, particularly in power generation, and how the company is on track to power 100% of operations by 2025. As a co-founder and the first signatory of the Climate Pledge, Amazon is leading the way with more than 18.5GW of renewable energy purchased and the world’s largest corporate renewable fleet of more than 380 projects around the world.


Raptor Maps Product VP Emphasizes Need for Solar System of Record

Raptor Maps Vice President of Product Mike Davey spoke about how Raptor Maps’ software solution, Raptor Solar, is rooted in building the system of record for the solar industry. Davey talked about how the industry has no market-standard sources for in-field performance and benchmarking, and how Raptor Solar is seeking to change that. Davey also touched on how Raptor Solar is meeting the industry’s demands for efficiency by optimizing legacy processes such as warranty claims and work orders.

All photos by Lorraine Photography