The Photovoltaic Solar Power Market Is Changing

In the coming years, customers will expect to pay less for solar energy, whether or not investing directly in a system. Industry professionals must immediately begin to rethink current business models, taking into account the downswing in module prices. These predictions are according to SolarPlaza, the global platform dedicated to photovoltaics, which is organizing the conference "The Solar Future: Italy" to be held in Milan on October 6 and 7 of this year.

According to Paolo Rocco Viscontini, President and CEO of Enerpoint Spa, and one of the speakers at this week’s conference: "Today we are facing a paradigm shift, itself a confirmation of the distributed generation. In Italy, with over 270,000 systems installed on roofs and industrial and agricultural coverings, the potential is still enormous. When the market was still young, it was enough to focus industry communication on informing, educating and involving key professionals (installers, banks, businesses, etc.). However, the message now needs to speak loudly of the practical benefits of PV (savings, respect for the environment, significant contribution to the national electricity demand), by demonstrating through practice the responsible and intelligent use of energy. Grid parity and Smart Grid are within our sights."

Giuseppe Sofia, Vice President of Gruppo Conergy and President of Conergy Italia, who will speak at the conference organized by SolarPlaza, explains: "In a radically changed market, the dialogue between business customers and end users needs new models of communication—and certainly more effective ones." According to the CEO of Conergy, "we must no longer speak of photovoltaics as a source of incentives, but rather as an opportunity for the end user. To do this, we must first focus on fostering loyalty among the installers and on developing new messages that better explain the value of one brand over another. We are moving toward a market comprised of, if not the end users themselves, then at least retail entities, so branding activities are essential—that is, linking a certain image of quality to one’s own brand. The theme of sustainability will be crucial since alternative energy options are part of a larger project, and even companies in this sector will have to start communicating those values."

Antonio Nodari, Managing Director of Pöyry Italy and another speaker at the SolarPlaza conference, says: “Training and high-quality service will be the keys to successfully confronting the challenges of the ‘solar future’”. "The time has come for even photovoltaic professionals to grow. They must shift their service offerings from niche consulting to high-level professional consulting. Specific business models will need to be developed by industry professionals, aiming more towards "domestic users" with "turnkey solutions", such as for financing, installation and maintenance. For the future, it will be important to focus on training. Our end customer—that is, the installer—will have to know the product perfectly in order to better explain it to the end user. Fostering loyalty will be as strategic a move as training, especially in light of the certification that will be necessary as of 2013."

How the new business models will look, and the new challenges the Italian PV industry must tackle, will both be covered at the conference "The Solar Future: Italy" in Milan on October 6 and 7 at Nhow Hotel, Via Tortona 35.