When I first joined Standard Solar in 2018, I knew it was a company that enjoyed being on the leading edge within the solar industry. I also knew that I wanted to help drive that innovation, first as vice president of structured finance and then as chief financial officer.

Recently, I was encouraged to launch Standard Solar Innovations, a division of the company designed to identify, evaluate, select and integrate new technologies and business models within the organization. After intensive discussions about what the focus of the group would be, we decided it should address three pressing business objectives.

First, we want to improve what we’re already doing by streamlining our business processes. Second, we want to find new segments of the industry (like solar + storage, for example) where Standard Solar’s excellence can shine and grow. But third, and most importantly, we want to give employees a place to share, test and nurture their ideas for improving our business.

We want to help introduce new concepts and technologies developed outside of Standard Solar to expand our range of services and increase our competitiveness in existing markets. After all, a business, like a human body, is only as strong as its core. At Standard Solar, our core has always been and will remain developing and financing the best projects that bring solar and related technologies to communities across the United States.

While the expectation is that the Innovations group will eventually contribute to Standard Solar’s bottom line, how quickly that happens will vary depending on the maturity of the concept pursued. Established technologies that are new to Standard Solar, such as energy storage, will hopefully provide substantial revenue within a couple of years. Novel technologies, where Standard Solar is an early innovator, could take three to five years or longer to reach that point.

But immediate profitability isn’t the point of the Innovations group, though I wouldn’t be surprised if its revenues equaled those of the rest of the company within five years. Instead, the goal is to ensure Standard Solar stays ahead of the game in clean energy innovation and has a path forward to help all its constituents advance productively and responsibly as the next generation of clean energy matures.

In addition to energy storage (which I consider among the low-hanging fruit of items on the Innovations group agenda), there are a host of opportunities that I expect the team to investigate, including electric vehicle (EV) charging, green hydrogen and distributed energy resource management (DERM). It’s too soon to predict exactly what the priority order will be for these and other opportunities, but input from the entire Standard Solar team will be encouraged and welcomed.

For now, we’re looking forward to hiring a team of project managers and facilitators to take in the feedback from Standard Solar team members and decide which concepts are immediately ready to pursue. We are hoping to add between four and six people to the team in the first six months, with the goal of having a team of 12 over the next year to 18 months—and then it’s full speed ahead.

The world of clean energy is changing quickly, and the most successful companies have internal strategies to anticipate and capitalize on the future of this dynamic marketplace. As our company moves forward into this new world, Standard Solar Innovations will be helping the company make the most of its opportunities.