[2019 Intersolar Europe] Interview with SolarEdge Founder Lior Handelsman
2019-05-24 15:45

At InterSolar Europe 2019, SolarEdge unveils new smart StorEdge Solutions, which integrates the management of solar, storage, and home energy into one inverter. The company also offered a preview of its commercial battery solutions, which are scheduled to be released in June. In an interview with EnergyTrend, Lior Handelsman, SolarEdge’s VP of Marketing and Product Strategy, Founder, stated his company's overall strategies and goals for the burgeoning PV market.

 SolarEdge VP of Marketing and Product Strategy, Founder: Lior Handelsman

With high market share in North America Market and a main production base in Guangzhou, how will SolarEdge cope with challenges like the escalating US-China trade war?

SolarEdge's plants are based not just in Guangzhou, but also in Europe and Vietnam. Should the US-China trade war aggravate, we will shift a significant portion of our production to the new Vietnamese plant which is scheduled for inauguration in 19Q3. Our total global capacity is currently at around 5GW, which should be enough to meet the needs of the global market.

How can the SolarEdge product outsell its competitors despite its higher price?

Value in the product. "We do not compete on price.",  we compete on value. With the advantages of our power optimizer, operating efficiency, advanced monitoring system, high safety, and easy installation, which is the value. Our customer pay a little bit more but the return on investment in our PV inverters during the life time of PV system are significantly higher than that of our competitors. This is the Value Say.

Why does SolarEdge derive much more sales from Taiwan, Japan, and Southeast Asia than China?

China is not a major market for SolarEdge, as it is primarily focused on ground-mounted projects that are carried out via open biddings, which are highly price-sensitive and have been won mainly by local firms. However,Taiwan has long been very attractive to SolarEdge due to its substantial demands for rooftop PV projects. Our company has already been doing business in the Taiwan market for five years now and was the sixth largest supplier in 2018.With the growth of our reputation, we also focus on countries like Japan, Philippines, and Thailand.

Can you share with us about the acquisition of Kokam?

As for me, solar and storage goes hand in hand.For VPPs (virtual power plants) to be developed successfully in the future, there must with robust financial scheme. Otherwise, solar is still the intermittent source. And it will limit solar energy to put on the grid. VPPs and storage is the way for SolarEdge to complete the product portfolios. In this way, it can compete with fossil fuels. Moreover, one day VPPs can enter into stock market for power trading.

Newly amended “Renewable Energy Development Act” promulgated in Taiwan in April, allowing newly joined industries to switch between FiT and direct supply and wheeling. It means ESS in Taiwan market will be open up. SolarEdge has any time table to enter Taiwan ESS market?

I am happy to hear that. It is important that financial institutions provide a complete financing package for solar-plus-storage project. As for me, once ESS financing package is available in Taiwan, SolarEdge will take part in the local energy storage system market, just like what it has done in Germany and plans to do in the US. A strong financial system is necessary if a country wants to effectively utilize and implement ESS solutions.

There are 5 founders, can you share how SolarEdge was born?

We got acquainted in the army when we decided to start a business together after finishing military service. After considering several industries, including security and gambling, we finally decided to settle on the solar industry, as it is generally more sustainable and helpful to the environment. For market differentiation, we first zeroed in how PV inverters and modules was made and operated. In order to gain more power generation from module, so the power optimizer was born.

How do you view the fact that your competitor has also rolled out a mini-optimizer?

What matters is performance and reliability. We guarantee that our customers can obtain 2-5% gain in the power output of residential systems, 2-3% for commercial systems, and 2-25% for utility projects. With the steadily growing quality of our technologies, we have managed to consistently receive the approval of our customers and third-party certification bodies like the Photon group. This is the Value Say. 

(Written by Sharon Chen, Analyst of EnergyTrend )