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Component & Power

CANADA: Level Playing Field

Opsun Panels, Inc., founded in 2005, specializes in the manufacture of PV panels, mounting systems and commercial solar solutions in Ontario, Canada. InterPV Editor Sarah Jeong had a chance to talk with Erik Desrosiers, Director of Business Development at Opsun Panels, Inc., on the company’s technological developments and Ontario’s feed-in tariff.



By Sarah Jeong (pved1@infothe.com)



First of all, please introduce your company to our readers. And what made you enter into the PV industry?


Opsun has been doing research since 2005, and what encouraged us to commercialize was the accelerated evolution of the North American solar energy market, for example, Ontario’s feed-in tariff and the expectation that the U.S. market will boom in the next couple of years.


Opsun makes solar installations easier and less costly by its innovative technology using aluminum extrusion. Please explain more about your technological developments in solar modules and installation.


Our focus has traditionally been to bring practical, low-cost and high-efficiency solar technology to Northern regions with good sunlight yet a harsher climate, for example, Canada. In such, we have been dealing with issues such as snow for longer and in more depth than other manufacturers.


As a manufacturer of PV panels and mounting systems, what are the main challenges running the business?


In a new, immature market such as Canada, the main challenge is to find who our main customers are really going to be in the long run and determine the distribution channels.


Opsun is setting up a solar panel facility in Ontario, Canada, satisfying the Ontario feed-in tariff’s requirement. How does this incentive program affect your business? Is there something special to note about the program in Canada?


Where most other important players in the solar industry see Ontario’s domestic content requirement as a huge problem, we find it to be a great opportunity as it allows us to manufacture our products here at home while staying competitive: everybody has to play by the same rules, so there are no unfair advantages.


What do you think are your unique strengths compared to other panel manufacturers?


We offer a state-of-the-art mounting system integrated with top-efficiency solar panels, which amounts to a very effective solution for residential, commercial and ground-mounted projects alike. Our StructuralPV™ pre-assembled modules are also ground-breaking in that they allow for 4-5 times more installations per year with the same team, without additional training or hiring of staff.


Taking into consideration Canada’s climate with cold weather and snow, which aspect do you specially pay attention to when having installation in the area?


One unique feature of Opsun’s SunRail™mounting system is that it easily and conveniently allows for sturdy high-profile, or above-ground, installations that help avoid snow obstruction while withstanding significant wind loads. We also strongly recommend that solar panels be installed in landscape orientation, or horizontally, as this way, snow obstruction will only incapacitate one diode rather than the entire panel.


Canada’s PV industry is not yet in the main stage of the global market while your neighbor attracts the global attention as a major player. How do you estimate Canada’ potential for growth in the global PV market?


Canada has garnered significant attention lately due to the feed-in tariff in Ontario. An expected 2 GW of PV is forecasted to be installed in the next 5 years only, and the program will grow even more thereafter.


What is your philosophy in leading the whole team composed of various people?


We believe that intelligent individuals should be allowed the freedom to follow through with their vision, rewarded for their accomplishments and held accountable for their performance.


What are your goal and plan in 2010?


We are looking to build strong relationships with partners to obtain a solid 10% market share in the Ontario market going into the future, as well as develop relationships with our U.S. partners.


What is your forecast for solar panel prices and the global PV market in 2010?


As you surely know, solar cell and panel prices have dropped by half in the past year. My hope is that trend will continue. As for PV installations in 2010, I can say that Ontario will see 300 MW or more.



Sarah Jeong is Editor of InterPV. Send your comments to pved1@infothe.com



For more information, please send your e-mails to pved@infothe.com.

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