Chris Robine, President and CEO, SPG Solar
One of the most difficult issues for the solar industry — and also one of the biggest opportunities — has been the continued decline in the price of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. While these lower prices are helping increase solar adoption, it is placing the buying emphasis on price and the lowest cost option today. Unfortunately, this focus on silicon and panel prices and does not account for the overall lifetime cost of the system, which is where the real ROI for solar is found.
To ensure the greatest lifecycle savings for consumers and long-term growth for the industry, we need to ensure that we look carefully at all of the customers’ needs first, and not just the need for a low price today. We need to convey the importance of designing and engineering a system correctly the first time, ensuring it is built to last with a superior operations and maintenance plan, and smart financing.
It is a balance between cost and quality. Selling projects based on low panel prices and components needs to be balanced with quality and long-term reliability. As an industry, we need to work towards greater parity between panel costs and balance of system costs through technology and policy innovations. This is why I think a key growth strategy for companies is to be vertically integrated from design and engineering to products, installation and maintenance. Vertical integration allows for greater control of cost and quality.
Chris Robine is president and CEO of SPG Solar. He spent over 14 years at General Electric (GE) where he most recently was the CFO for GE Renewable Energy. Chris has also served on the board of PrimeStar Solar, an emerging solar thin-film technology and manufacturing company.