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What do you see as the single biggest challenge facing your industry in the year ahead, and why? From my perspective, the biggest challenge facing the solar industry is educating consumers on the trade-off between quality and price. For a number of years, solar panels have been sold solely on the entry price point in order to take advantage of feed-in tariff and government subsidies. Under the auspices that the product would last for a 20-year period, some of these products don’t have the longevity of a more quality product. The burgeoning solar retrofit market, particularly for Australian operations, is growing exponentially as a result of the installation of these substandard panels. If we don’t address this price versus quality nexus, this could be one of the major concerns for the solar industry in the longer term. Quality is central to everything we do at Enphase, and our focus is on lifetime value as opposed to the up-front cost. This does a couple of things: it helps the end consumer understand that they have a viable product for a long period of time and this engenders confidence. It also helps the installer to generate increased gross revenue and therefore build scale into the business over time.

What do you see as the two biggest growth opportunities for your customers in 2015, and why? With a focus on quality, the two primary growth opportunities for our customers (who are primarily the solar installers) are education and safety. There are obvious opportunities for educating the market on the benefits of quality, and the long-term paybacks and greater returns that result. If the installer community themselves have a better understanding of the quality of the product they are installing, they will be able to do a better job of educating the end consumer of the benefits from installing solar on their roof. Safety is also an area of focus for the solar industry but the Enphase system eliminates these risks completely. There is a significant growth opportunity for an Enphase installer who focuses on the distinct safety benefits achieved by installing an Enphase system. Voltages on the roof are well and truly minimised with a microinverter system; it’s not 600 V on a roof, it’s only 40 V.

What do you feel are three most important things your customers are looking for in a supplier, and why? The three most important things are value, training and support. When Enphase entered the Australian market at the beginning of 2014, we invested in a serious level of resources on the ground. We didn’t just employ salespeople, we employed a field-application engineer and a trainer, and that trainer’s mandate was to educate the installer network on how best to leverage the Enphase system as a key opportunity in their business. Part of this process is learning how to sell on value, not on price. Ultimately installers don’t want to fall victim to the ‘race

to the bottom’. They want to grow together with a product that is going places. Enphase does not subscribe to a ‘set-and-forget’ mentality. Our installers are provided with a high level of support with access to a highly skilled Enphase engineer at any time during an installation.

What emerging trends or developing technologies may influence or change the way your industry sector will do business in 2015, and why? The big development, particularly in the last 12 months, has been the development of energy management storage. Enphase is not just a solar company; we’re an energy company and, as part of this, we have invested heavily in R&D into a storage and energy management proposition. We see this as a great development profile and extraordinarily promising direction for our business.

What new and innovative technologies do you see emerging in your field of business in 2015, and how will they help your customers? At Solar Power International in October, Enphase announced a suite of new products essentially called the Enphase Energy Management System. In combination with our microinverters, there is now an AC battery storage solution that enables the consumer to manage their solar generation and loads at the residence. In the near future, there will be opportunities for the system to connect with data derived from household appliances to allow the consumer to manage the complete energy flow within their house from the palm of their hand. Companies that succeed in connecting the dots from generation, load management and usage, particularly in the solar space, are the ones that will occupy mind share of the market and ultimately win the consumer. Nathan Dunn is Managing Director APAC at Enphase Energy, a company that was in 2013 named both fastest growing clean tech company in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 and World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer. Enphase is responsible for producing the world’s first commercially available microinverter in 2008, shipping its 6,400,000th microinverter in early 2014. Nathan leads efforts to grow Enphase Energy’s share of the Asia-Pacific solar market. He has a rich blend of experience from his previous roles as Managing Director, GE Lighting Australasia, and General Manager, Mobile Communications for the LG Electronics business in ANZ.


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Sustainability Matters Dec2014/Jan2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Dec2014/Jan2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...