Q. What drove Enphase to shift from the computer networking and telecommunications industry to clean energy, and how did your past experiences assist in the successful launch of Enphase Energy?
Enphase Energy is a global energy technology company that delivers smart, easy-to-use solutions that connect solar generation, storage and management on one intelligent platform. Our heritage has always been in solar technology but the founders of Enphase have come from high tech companies in the networking and telecommunications industry where reliability is paramount. This has been one of the guiding principles where we create products and solutions that are ‘software defined’ so it allows our engineers, installers or utility companies to remotely manage the solar generation of our customers. We applied the same principle in the design of the Enphase AC Battery which allows homeowners to control how their battery will interact with the grid. For example, setting the battery to charge during solar hours as well as overnight from the grid when the cost of electricity is lower.
Q. Enphase and LG have collaboratively launched a microinverterintegrated solar module- NeON 2 ACe at Intersolar 2017. What are your expectations from NeON 2 Ace and market response?
Enphase has worked with LG Electronics to deliver an AC module with an Enphase microinverter. One of the key advantages in having the Enphase AC module is it makes the installation faster and more cost-effective. While this product is currently available in North America only, the feedback we’ve had from installers has been very positive. Not only they have been able to reduce the time they take to complete an installation by up to half, it’s allowed them to reduce the cost of a standard residential rooftop installation and this is a win for customers. We have since extended our relationship to Jinko Solar who also offer Enphase AC modules in North America.
Q. For Enphase, NeON 2 Ace represents the culmination of a longtime drive to simplify solar electronics. Can this new Enphase Energized AC module be a major new revenue source for the company?
We believe our relationships with companies like LG Electronics and Jinko Solar present a significant revenue and market opportunity for us by working with these major module manufacturers who have an established market presence in many countries. Like us, LG and Jinko Solar’s focus on quality solar products ensures our customers are investing in a solar system that will go the distance in even the harshest conditions.
Q. Can you tell us about your most recent Enphase installation?
It’s been an exciting time for Enphase as we’ve only officially launched in India in August. While we’ve had an indirect presence through a distribution partner for the last few years, Enphase is negotiating for a number of commercial projects in India that we hope to announce in the next few months.
Q. Many PV integrators view microinverters as a solution for residential and small commercial installations but not for larger commercial projects. Are you developing products for the commercial sector?
We have well publicised plans of reducing the cost of our microinverter and we believe this will help us gain considerable share of the commercial market. We are already in discussions will a number of local partners in India with respect to large scale commercial installations.
Enphase microinverters can be used for both residential and commercial installations. Because microinverters are individually attached to each solar module, it allows installers to scale the technology for large commercial projects. Using Enphase technology on large scale commercial solar systems may require a more significant investment, however the ability to pin point problems is even more crucial in large scale commercial than in smaller applications. Enphase’s online monitoring platform, Enlighten, gives the system owner full visibility of the health and performance of each solar module, as well as the ability to troubleshoot issues remotely.
Q. Does Enphase have specific programs or training to assist integrators in deploying microinverters into larger commercial systems?
We are providing dedicated training and support through our partners in India. Should installers or EPCs require support in the design of large scale commercial installations, our team of engineers in Australia and the United States are able to assist in any technical details.
Q. A common debate about microinverters in hot climates is that these complicated power electronics on the roof may be susceptible to the harsh elements. How confident are you that the microinverters can stand the test of time, and what kind of data do you have to support that?
Using years’ worth of accelerated testing under stress conditions as well as the invaluable feedback loop provided by our global Enlighten network, Enphase microinverters are designed to stand up to the harshest weather environments. This has been proven in Australia’s extreme summer temperatures. In this test, https://www2. enphase.com/global/files/Enphase_Internal_ Temp_Tech-Brief_AU.pdf conducted during the 2014 summer heat wave, Enphase microinverters continued to operate well above the maximum rated internal temperature of 85 degrees Celsius. What occurred in 2014 showed that all Enphase Microinverters continued to operate as normal and demonstrated quality and reliability in extreme weather conditions.
Q. Can you brief on Enphase Home Energy Management System and Enphase Storage System. Could you give us significance of these energy management solutions and how do they fit in your operations?
The Enphase Home Energy Solution is the world’s simplest and most integrated end-to end solution that generates, stores, monitors, controls and analyses energy in a home. It provides a flexible platform for the future of energy allowing homeowners to expand their solar generation and storage according to their needs. The Enphase Storage System is one of the key components in the Home Energy Solution allowing homeowners to take a modular approach toward introducing energy storage to their homes. Our AC Battery is simple to install, safe, very reliable and provides the lowest lifetime energy cost for both new solar customers and retrofit customers. It has a 1.2 kWh capacity and its Lithium Iron Phosphate chemistry makes it safe for any home environment. What makes the Enphase Home Energy Solution unique is the Enlighten platform which allows owners to track the performance of their system and manage this using Enphase Enlighten software which provides realtime, panel-level data and alerts that can be accessed from a computer or mobile device. When you look at how the Enphase Home Energy Solution has been designed, it is a completely customer-centric proposition designed for greater energy independence and control which not many manufacturers in the market can claim.
Q. What are some of the major trends regarding microinverters and microinverter-integrated solar modules?
Many people think microinverters are a premium product and this is something we’ve sought to address at Enphase. We firmly believe string inverters are technologically outdated, and that microinverter technology should be the norm. If prices reached parity it makes sense that microinverters would occupy the vast majority of the market globally – the benefits are simply too great. As microinverters continue to scale we will gradulally see this natural transition occur. The introduction of our next generation of the Enphase microinverter, IQ, is another leap toward making this a reality. Currently available in North America, IQ microinverters are easier to install, lighter, more cost effective and they support higher power modules. The introduction of IQ has addressed the cost concern for homeowners who are looking for a more modern alternative to central string inverter technology. With AC modules, I believe we will only see a greater appetite in the market for this.
Q. Any new product you decide to launch for the India market?
At this stage, we do not have any new products that we are planning to launch in India.
Q. The Government of India’s ambitious smart cities project has seen a vehement push in the last few years. How do you think Enphase Energy fits in this context?
With the growth of urban populations, renewable energy technologies like solar will continue to play a major role for urban planners looking to drive a clean energy future through the planning of smart cities. Not only is solar power more sustainable, it can be integrated with smart technology to advance functionality such as home automation, the deployment of electric vehicles to rooftop solar farms in buildings. Enphase is already part of this evolution and it can only get more exciting as we head into the future in India.