pvXchange, the Swiss-based online exchange platform for photovoltaic (PV) components, has announced its entry into the North American market.
The company started seven years ago and has amassed since then 7,500 subscribers. In 2010 it oversaw the trading of $400 million worth of PV components and has experienced 100 per cent year-on-year growth over the last four years.
Energy Refuge caught up with pvXchange to learn more about its plans for North America and its business model.
ER: How did the you come with the idea pvXchange?
PX: pvXchange was founded in Germany in 2004 in the midst of a solar boom. The solar market in Germany at the time was relatively new, but it was growing at an exponential pace and our founders saw an opportunity to help provide clarity and transparency in the increasingly crowded solar components market. The number of solar integrators was growing rapidly, and many were new to the space, creating a need for a mechanism for understanding what types and makes of panels they needed for their projects.
Our goal is to establish pvXchange as a market institution, providing solar manufacturers, distributors, integrators and developers with a platform to easily and cost-effectively trade solar components. In 2010, we traded 185 mW of solar panels and 80 mW of inverters – translating to over $400 million worth of merchandise traded. We traded 209 different solar panel brands for over 7,000 clients worldwide. Additionally, we have experienced 100 percent year-on-year growth for each of the past four years.
ER: What are pvXchange’s expectations in relation to the American market? Any challenges and possibilities that are not present in the European market?
PX: We see the American solar market as one with enormous potential. Though there are currently only a little more than two GW of installed solar capacity in the United States (less than total capacity installed in Europe in 2010 alone), states such as New Jersey and California have large solar markets. Generous state incentives have stimulated solar adoption in those states, and states such as New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are following suit. We see the American market as being in the same place that the German market was in 2004.
Currently, the main challenge that the solar industry faces in the United States is weak federal support for solar. In Germany, by contrast, the state is a huge supporter of solar power. President Obama, however, has made renewable energy an important part of his energy strategy, and we hope that this will create more demand for solar in states around the country.
ER: What does the future have in stock for PV on a global scale?
PX: We are currently located in the important solar hubs around the world, including Europe, North America and China. We are continuously building relationships with solar manufacturers and developers, and we are hoping to cement our position as a market institution. We have already accomplished this in Germany, and we are now working toward that same goal in North America and China. We think that solar energy is the way of the future, and we have not come close to the growth ceiling for the industry. We look forward to playing our part in the solar story.
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.