Commercial Manager Jörn Brembach is one of the newest additions to the DSM Advanced Solar team. With more than a decade of solar experience in everything from testing and inspections to certification, Jörn has a unique take on the opportunities and challenges facing both O&Ms and solar module manufacturers. Here he shares three quick-hit thoughts on what lies ahead in 2020 and beyond.
The technical and commercial management of photovoltaic plants is very much a service culture - and this is now at the heart of my role at DSM. It’s not enough that we deliver excellent solar materials. We need to work more on service levels and bankability – translating technical excellence into a viable commercial proposition for O&Ms (Operations & Maintenance) and working with business models that suit them. One example is our Retrofit Anti-Reflective coating. For older solar parks (especially in Italy and Germany), large asset owners have begun investing in costly cleaning equipment and subcontractors for the first time. Our Retrofit AR coating is applied directly onto the cleaned module and helps them boost solar performance immediately - thus creating a partly self-refinancing profit center.
Staying with the theme of bankability, everyone in our industry is relying more and more on bankable papers for their decision making. Here at DSM we’ve been thinking about how to make life easier for our customers - one big action for 2020 will be to ensure that our products are well documented and communicated in a way that resonates with customers. Specifically, there is a huge amount of highly useful content both inside and outside of DSM - field surveillance studies, data analyses , case studies, etc. We are pulling more of this content together for our partners to create reliable, actionable intelligence that enables them to mitigate risk and make solid decisions.
Our industry has faced competition and extreme price pressure for some years now, but now we need to prepare for a new twist of the ‘solar coaster’ as we move from being a subsidized industry to a more mature, subsidy-free business with Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), bid models, etc. In a recent article a peer of mine, Steve Hanawalt, made a very astute comment. He said, “My advice to owners? Don’t forget the adage, ‘You get what you pay for’. Usually, lowest cost is actually lowest apparent cost.” This applies to everything from the bill of materials that module makers choose, to the maintenance and upkeep of solar parks. Sometimes choosing value over price takes a leap of faith but rest assured that at DSM Advanced Solar we are spending every hour of the day striving to prove that value!
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