The solar industry is used to rapid changes, hence the moniker “The Solar Coaster.” But this year the changes are at their most extreme in my recollection: rapid adoption of battery storage, tariffs, blackouts, the coronavirus pandemic and a recession.
It takes a varied set of skills to run a successful solar business over the long term in such a dynamic environment. Not only does a company need the right mix of technology, marketing and strategy, but they also need a management team that is focused on long term success. Companies that are in for the quick buck, featuring low prices and “free” solar deals, usually disappear just as quickly.
Over the past decade I’ve gotten to know some of the best locally-focused solar companies around the country. One of the companies that stands out is Renova Energy, based in the Coachella Valley in California.
Please listen up to this week’s Energy Show featuring Vincent Battaglia, CEO of Renova Energy. Vincent shares his perspectives on meeting customer’s changing energy needs, the future of the solar industry, and his insights into the keys to long-term success in the solar and storage industry.
Success in the solar industry requires leaders with a diverse skill set. Leaders must really understand the technology’s evolution, be effective with sales and marketing, coordinate what always seem to be chaotic operations, juggle financial issues and manage a growing team. I’m always interested in learning from people who have this diverse background — and have demonstrated success in the solar industry. (more…)
Solar and battery storage systems are constructed on-site with components from a number of different manufactures. It’s not as if one crate gets delivered to the job site and is simply plugged in. There are on the order of fifty different solar panel manufacturers, half a dozen inverter companies, a dozen racking companies, half a dozen battery companies, and a variety of monitoring and control software choices. Match that product variation up with three thousand different utilities and eighteen thousand cities in the U.S. and it becomes very apparent that there is no “one size fits all” system. (more…)
Here’s a solar industry secret: all solar panels generate the same amount of electricity on a per watt basis. In other words, twenty 300 watt panels will generate exactly the same amount of electricity as twenty-five 240 watt panels. Indeed, there are objective differences in panel cost, efficiency, aesthetics and ease of installation — and now with the upcoming tariff, even availability. But differences such as brand, assembly quality, country of origin and projected degradation rates are much more subjective since they are based on manufacturer’s claims and not based on objective third party studies. (more…)
Large companies are predominant in most industries. But when it comes to rooftop solar installations, small is beautiful. Although there have been several large national-scale solar installers, in the aggregate the smaller, local companies dominate. As with most other construction businesses, local companies generally understand their local markets better and have lower overhead — enabling them to provide better customer service at lower prices.
On this week’s Energy Show we have the pleasure of speaking with Vince Battaglia, the CEO of Renova Solar. Renova started as Vince’s MBA thesis; eleven years later Renova is now the leading solar installation company in the Coachella Valley. Like many other local solar installation companies, Renova has expanded its residential solar installation business to include commercial installations, system maintenance and battery storage.
Granted, the Palm Desert area is blessed by an abundance of sunlight and high electric rates – a combination that is perfect for a thriving solar business. But dealing with the ups and downs of the Solar Coaster is challenging. For more about the challenges inherent in building and running a successful local solar business, Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.
Millions of Americans were using cereal boxes, telescopes, and flimsy plastic solar viewing glasses to witness the Solar Eclipse on August 21. But for workers in the solar industry — as well as homeowners and businesses who are considering rooftop solar – an eclipse of the solar industry itself looms on the horizon.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) will be deciding in September whether or not to place tariffs on imported solar panels. Since virtually all solar panels are imported, the tariffs they are considering will effectively double the price of standard solar panels. In advance of these proposed tariffs, almost all available inventory of solar panels is being purchased by large installers. As we learned in economics 101, when demand goes up and supply is constrained, prices increase. Indeed, prices for popular rooftop solar panels have already increased by 20%.
The tariff issue being considered by the ITC is complicated. On the one hand we want to build a robust U.S. solar panel manufacturing industry – which employed about 2,000 people at the end of 2016. On the other hand we want to continue the strong job growth in the entire solar industry – which employed 260,000 people at the end of 2016. Since the vast majority of U.S. solar workers are focused on installations, increasing the price of imported solar panels is likely to cause overall solar employment to decline for the first time ever.
A decision to implement tariffs or other penalties on imported solar panels is likely to be made by President Trump towards the end of the year. It is my hope that his decision carefully considers ways to continue growth in the solar industry, while at the same time developing a long-term plan to improve U.S. manufacturing. For more about the upcoming ITC case and its implications on the solar customers and the industry as a whole, Listen up to the Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.