Distributed energy technology interest surging: Energy Insights

Framingham, MA, Aug. 17, 2006 — Findings from a recent consumer survey, conducted by IDC’s Energy Insights company, reveal a growth spurt for distributed energy (DE) technology in the residential market. Of the 1,119 U.S. consumers surveyed, one in two respondents (51%) are interested in acquiring backup generation for their primary residence in the next two years, and almost the same fraction (47%) express interest in baseload generation (i.e., on-site generation equipment to provide all of the power for the home on a regular basis).

Also known as distributed generation, DE refers to technologies that enable consumers to generate electrical power at their homes, and typically allow for surplus power to be sold back into the electric power grid.

“U.S. households purchased a record 1.7 million backup generators from April 2005 through March of this year for their primary residences,” says Nick Lenssen, program director of distributed and renewable energy at Energy Insights. “Given homeowners’ anxiety due to many weather-related outages–particularly those in the southeastern U.S. recently–it’s no surprise to us that consumers are seeking more reliable power for their increasingly energy-dependent homes.”

When asked to identify the top three reasons for interest in acquiring baseload generation equipment, survey respondents cite “worries about outages or blackouts” (72%) as number one. “Saving money on energy bills” (67%) and “independence from electric utility” (40%) rank second and third respectively.

Despite consumers’ outage anxiety, findings reveal only 7% of U.S. households currently have an on-site generator, most of which are portable models that are exclusively used during power outages and need to be manually started. Adds Lenssen, “With current usage low and interest so high, we’re on the precipice of a major spike in this market. We forecast a potential market of roughly 52 million homes as moderate prospects for buying residential backup generation equipment in the next few years.”

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