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Advancing Alternative Energy Sources

As electricity costs rise and environmental concerns grow, solar power is becoming an increasingly attractive energy source. According to the International Energy Agency, solar photovoltaic technology could represent up to 25 percent of global electricity production by 2050.

Such clean, inexpensive power — along with other forms of alternative energy — presents not only potential rewards but also emerging risks for homeowners and businesses. The good news is that the insurance industry can offer the risk management tools needed to support the advancement of such technologies. At Verisk Analytics, for example, we’re studying a variety of energy alternatives to assess their level of liability and minimize the possible pitfalls.

When purchasing or insuring a system, you need to understand how solar panels will fare in  ice, snow, hail, and wind. Severe weather can cause extreme stress to the framing and joints that secure solar panels to a roof, and pounding on the structure can seriously affect a roof’s drainage system. Also, extreme wind can uproot solar panels, leading to additional safety risks for building owners and bystanders. Proper installation and maintenance is critical to minimize the potential hazards.

The insurance industry is well on its way to facilitating development of alternative energy by providing coverage and risk management services directly to manufacturers, contractors, and owners of green structures such as solar panel arrays. We will continue our work to understand and develop products the industry can use to support alternative energy.

Stephen C. Clarke

Stephen C. Clarke, CPCU, is assistant vice president of ISO's Government Relations Division, responsible for ISO's interaction with government agencies on product filings and other regulatory matters. Steve has more than 30 years of experience in the industry, encompassing regulatory affairs, compliance, operations, and product development. Steve is also an adjunct instructor at St. John's University School of Risk Management.

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