Top solar PV products alone are not enough to convince commercial sector

by Search Gate staff. Published Thu 19 Jun 2014 15:11, Last updated: 2014-06-19
The decision to invest in solar is not driven solely by economic factors

Trina Solar, a global leader in photovoltaic energy, has said that the solar industry must focus on innovation, and environmental responsibility as well as performance and aesthetics if it is to drive uptake in the commercial sector.

Speaking at the STA Commercial Rooftop Event: ‘Unlocking the Potential’ in London, Richard Rushin, UK Sales Manager at Trina Solar and STA Board Member, warned that the solar industry must focus on environmental responsibility and high innovation, as well as ROI, to win over the commercial sector.

He said: “First and foremost, solar PV is an investment, and commercial organisations are naturally keen to maximise their returns through the most efficient generation of energy or through Feed-in Tariffs. But the decision to invest in solar is not driven solely by economic considerations. Commercial organisations have a number of factors guiding that decision, meaning that a focus on product performance and ROI alone is unlikely to make for a very compelling argument for solar PV.

“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is increasingly important to all commercial enterprises, and solar PV, as a renewable energy source, can bring significant benefit to a business’s CSR strategy,” Rushin continued.

“But this benefit risks being undermined if there are weak links in the supply chain, where the environment is concerned. Installers should therefore take the time to investigate the green credentials and accreditations of their chosen manufacturers to make sure that they adhere to the highest standards possible.

“Trina Solar, for example, achieved a No. 1 global ranking for environmental and social performance from the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. For commercial organisations mindful of their corporate responsibilities, this reassurance is invaluable.

“Depending on the roof in question, aesthetics will also have a part to play - if an array is going onto a commercial building, in many cases its visual appearance is crucial. The design element of solar PV panels is becoming more and more important for the industry,” added Rushin.

Rushin went on to say that the solar industry’s commitment to the environment must be matched by continuous innovation in the panels themselves to appeal to the commercial sector: “High innovation is also key. There is a considerable amount of cachet that comes with being associated with leading ‘cutting edge’ technologies in the world of business.

“This is something Trina Solar is acutely aware of, so we invest significantly in our R&D; facilities. In collaboration with the Australian National University and the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, we recently announced the successful development of a new laboratory scale solar cell that delivers an efficiency of 24.4%, making it one of the most efficient in the world.

“Manufacturers must take up the mantle of innovation, and realise the importance of continued investment in research and development as they position themselves as innovators to drive uptake in this sector,” Rushin concluded.

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