San Antonio Solar President Answers Tough Questions on the Future of Solar
What’s been the most significant change, from your perspective, in solar manufacturing in the last year? What’s driving the change?
The 201 Trade Case has had a greater impact on perception than will ever be made apparent in reality. The perception itself caused some decline in solar investment, but like most solar company CEOs overseeing financially healthy companies, I’m not concerned. If anything, the tariff will help businesses and homeowners interested in solar power more easily find companies capable of meeting their needs. The 201 Trade Case has and will continue shedding light on who truly deserves business in the American solar industry.
Can you cite some stories, anecdotes or case studies of demand for solar panels, their use and what buyers are now experiencing? (ie. lower prices, better technology, more discernible savings, more incentives, faster delivery).
The anecdotes I can share on the topic of demand for solar panels are shockingly accurate reflections of general market conditions, and these anecdotes showcase how demand for solar power exceeds its availability, not the other way around. That’s an exciting prospect for solar CEOs and the solar-based manufacturing industry as a whole, and not just on American soil, but abroad as well.
From people with RVs to homeowners wanting to power their swimming pools with solar panels, we’ve had to turn away more people than we’d like to, just because the technology is not yet at pace with market demand. I’ve been to Africa to facilitate micro-financing of our solar-based philanthropic mission, replacing kerosene lanterns with clean solar solutions for Ugandan families and children. One of the children told Go Solar Group co-owner, Keven Jensen, that he felt like he was “looking up into heaven” as he stared at the solar-powered light atop his desk.
Moving forward, what’s the prospect, the outlook, the future of solar manufacturing – in the United States? How about the U.S. relative to the world?
The domestic solar manufacturing industry will have to find a way to further develop products tailored toward smart home and solar plus delivery models.
We already see that trend unfolding, and it presents an enormous opportunity for the advancement of energy efficiency in American homes. As long as manufacturers tailor solutions to this demand, the future of domestic solar is bright, regardless of the regulatory state of affairs. The future of solar manufacturing hinges so tightly on agile delivery models, particularly those which fit the aesthetic and function of a smart home.
From IoT to home security systems, windows, insulation, HVAC and more, solar success hinges on assimilating the value propositions of solar into the broader home improvement context.
Abroad, I think policymakers and manufacturers will collaborate to build and deploy increasingly advanced micro and community-based solar solutions, alleviating impoverished areas in third world countries from the economic pitfalls (both monetary and healthcare-specific) of coal and kerosene-based power generation.
What do most people miss, or not see about solar manufacturing that’s an important point to know?
Panel manufacturing itself is a small part of the quality in solar manufacturing equation. Advancements in Inverter manufacturing, storage solutions, backup solutions, and battery backup solutions hold equal weight in helping homeowners and businesses alike get the most out of their systems, especially amid changing net metering policies from utility companies.
Anything further you’d like to add that the above questions have not given you the opportunity to express?
While the application of solar power will continually fluidify and coalesce with other technologies to provide homeowners and businesses with sustainable living, its value will shapeshift to the contours of the market, ensuring demand never fails to meet the market’s supply. Solar power as we know it is very much so at a dead end, but the brightest part of its history will unfold at the next outpost on solar power’s highway.