1. Corona affects this industry, too
The global pandemic has affected pretty much everyone and everything on the planet and the solar industry is no exception, although in a not entirely negative way. Less travel, more self sufficiency and a documented “stay at home” trend has led to an upswing for the building and building material industry. People staying at home and looking after their homes will benefit not only builders but also streaming services, e-commerce, interior design – and solar panels.
2. It must look good!
Building integrated photovoltaics – i.e. solar panels on buildings, vehicles and other structures– will take off in a big way, fuelled by subsidies and a strong desire among end consumers and property owners to “make a difference” and at the same time save on the energy bill.
But not any old rusty framed solar panel will do. Remember the Trabant? When you don’t have a car, any car will do. But later you might want a BMW. Or more recently: face masks. First a life saver they are now also a fashion accessory (apparently “floral” is the most popular design). Just like all emerging products solar cells and panels are rapidly moving from “must have” to “must have but must also look good”. Solar panels can be seen as “intelligent building material” and customers demand that they are aesthetically attractive, just like any other feature in, on and around their homes.
3. Local is lekker!
(Any Dutch or South African will get this; lekker = yummy.) Corona painfully revealed the weaknesses of long supply chains and many industry players now feel that local production of solar cells makes much more sense. Even end consumers are starting to care about lifecycle costs, sustainability and the carbon footprint of transporting solar panels, often produced with “dirty” energy, half way across the world. Also, robotisation and digitisation has made local production more competitive in a range of industries and the solar industry is no exception. Expect more European and US solar panel factories closer to the end consumers and relatively less imports from China.
by Sven Lindström, CEO, Midsummer
Sven Lindström is co-founder and CEO of Midsummer, a leading developer and supplier of building integrated solar panels (BIPV). Mr. Lindström has over 20 years of experience from international business and development of high tech production equipment and vacuum deposition systems and over ten years of experience from the development and management of solar cell production equipment. See http://www.midsummer.se/