Thursday

21st Feb 2019

Focus

Sillicon valley know-how aims to conquer EU solar market

The long list of California cool making its way into European homes got a little longer this year, when a solar company from Amsterdam acquired the license to a new technology to calculate a building’s propensity to generate power from the sun.

The technology, its developers say at Oakland-based Sungevity, allows the company to make a faster and more accurate estimate of the costs and benefits of installing solar panels on your roof.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • "It used to be that people would go up on the roof to take measurements." (Photo: VELUX / ESTIF)

“It used to be that people would go up on the roof [to take measurements],” Danny Kennedy, founder of and president at Sungevity, told EUobserver.

Instead, he said, his team of engineers are using satellite images, aerial photographs and specially designed software to do in less than 24 hours what used to take weeks. He calls it “remote solar design."

“It is what we pioneered. It is where we are leveraging,” he said.

Building on success in the US, the company late last year announced it was expanding abroad by taking an equity stake in a solar start-up in the Netherlands, Zonline, and giving it access to the new technology.

The new service went live in April this year. During the first three months of operation, Zonline director Roebyem Anders said, the company received more than 3000 estimate requests and sold close to 150 solar panel installations.

“We have been very successful. It has exceeded expectations,” she said. Next year, she wants to sell 1,000 installations.

The reason for choosing the Netherlands, Kennedy said, was not that orange is both the company’s and the country’s national colour, but, among other things, that electricity prices are high enough for solar to be competitive.

“We are at a tipping point,” he said. “Electricity prices across the continent dictate that solar makes sense.”

Electricity prices have been rising for years, while those for solar panels have been falling. Neither trend is expected to come to a halt anytime soon, and to a growing number of home-owners the relatively big investment in a solar panel installation is looking less and less frightening.

According to a typical Zonline estimate, a €6,600 system of 12 solar panels on an average house in the Netherlands somewhere would save the owner almost €30,000 in electricity bills over the course of 25 years. It would provide almost three quarters of the household’s total electricity consumption.

Sungevity’s foray into the Netherlands is “something of a test”, Kennedy said, to see if it could survive in a highly competitive European market. If so, he plans to expand even further.

“We are very interested in Europe. We are looking further afield,” he said.

The growing pains of the solar industry

The solar industry is in disarray. But, experts say, this is nothing out of the ordinary. It is just going through a painful but necessary process.

Solar energy in figures: Germany is king

Europe is the undisputed sun king of the world, with close to 75 percent of globally installed solar panels. But there are big differences between countries, and Germany leads the pack.

Scandal around Slovak solar energy industry

When the Slovak government in 2009 allocated permits to build solar power plants, there was "widespread suspicion that it was rigged to benefit certain individuals," according to the US embassy in Bratislava. Prime Minister Fico denies the allegations.

Solar energy

Europe’s solar energy industry has been shaken by strong competition from China. EUobserver examines whether it has got what it takes to survive.

News in Brief

  1. Tusk to back pro-EU candidates in Polish EP vote
  2. Germany rejects UK appeal on Saudi arms sales
  3. French senators decry 'dysfunction' on Macron security aide affair
  4. France to ban far-right groups over antisemitism
  5. Swedish climate activist to face Juncker in Brussels
  6. Swedish MEP calls for discussion on Orban in EPP
  7. EU countries back copyright reform
  8. Germany keeps EU commission in dark on Dieselgate

EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news

The European Commission has branded the latest campaign by the Hungarian government as 'fake news', after Orban's government accused Juncker of pressing ahead with migration proposals that threaten the country's security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  2. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  3. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  4. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  5. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  6. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  7. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  8. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us