Howard Wenger: Helix is

Elaine:Hi, welcome to [Green Biz] Studio, I'm Elaine Hsieh, the Verge program director for Green Biz Group, and I'm here with Howard Wenger from Sun Power, he's the president Welcome, Howard

Howard:Great to be here Thank you Elaine Elaine:Great, so glad you could join us One of the questions that I had was telling that story about Sun Power You guys have a really interesting transformation story, just as a company

Where did you guys start out and where are you guys going to go? Howard:It is interesting The solar industry has gone through this rocket ship trajectory I think we tend to forget about companies like Sun Power that had to really pioneer for almost 20 years Starting 1985, the company was founded by Dick Swanson, professor out of Stanford University He invented this really cool solar cell

It's a back-contact solar cell, and what that means, essentially, is that the solar cell has all of the electrical connections on the back side, which makes it the most efficient solar cell in the world, which means it converts more sunlight to electricity than any other solar cell in the world So for Sun Power, for 20 years, we were a solar cell company 1985 to 2005 2005, the last ten years, it's been an amazing transformation that's taken place, where we migrated from being a cell company to a panel company to a systems solution company Now we're more like an energy company

It's been an amazing ride so far Elaine:Tell me about that evolution in terms of your customers Howard:The customers have changed Elaine:Obviously Howard:Right

In the first 20 years, we had customers like Honda and Air Environments where we were integrating our solar cells into cars and into airplanes to set high altitude records Off the beaten track applications with technology Now, we're serving customers like Bed Bath and Beyond, we heard from them this morning Macy's, Target, retail companies, and very large companies like Apple, also, are a customer of ours We're building power plants for utilities, and we're also delivering solar for homes

We really cover the full spectrum One of the focuses for us at this conference is to introduce our new Helix product, which is the world's first fully-integrated commercial solar solution It's targeted for commercial industrial customers, and also for other public institutions like universities and schools It's a rooftop system, but it can also be deployed over parking areas and on the ground You literally can offset all of the electricity for a commercial customer, or a public sector customer, with this technology

What's interesting and different about Helix is that every single component is fully engineered and delivered by one company We call it the power of one We have that advantage as a company at Sun Power where we develop all of the technology from the solar cell through to the panel and all of the wiring and electrical components, all the way to the software that delivers the full solution for the customer It lowers the installation time, so it reduces cost by a factor of 2 on the install time It also delivers more energy per square foot than any other system out there

We deliver 70% more energy on any given rooftop with our technology in Helix than the conventional solution that's out there today Elaine:Is that because of the larger system, or is it because of the actual panel efficiency? Howard:It's really because of the panel efficiency that's driving it Then the unique, integrated way that we're putting the panels on the roof We're able to populate and make full use of the roof so that almost 90% of the roof is covered with our panels, still allowing for things like the soiling on the panels to be washed off easily and taking into consideration every element One of the things that people often don't think about is the wiring, and the wiring management, and how important that is on a solar system

If you think about a solar system that has wires on every panel connecting to each other, wires go from those panels into an invertor, it's very complicated We're making the complex simple by putting plug-and-play solutions on all of these panels The only tools you need to install our system are your hands We have literally no tools Elaine:You don't need to have a trained person come in and actually do that? Howard:We still use trained electricians and so forth to meet code and so on, but you really do not need to have highly skilled people to install our systems, because it's all plug and play

Elaine:That's cool That's really awesome Talk about applications, then Tell me all the different kinds of applications for this in terms of the integrated commercial scale plug-and-play power station that you have Howard:Yeah

If you look at most commercial facilities, most of them have flat roofs This system is designed to go on a flat roof without penetrating the roof and drilling holes in the roof, so it literally sits on the roof and goes together like a jigsaw puzzle That allows us to install it really fast We have a flat-roof solution that's Helix Most especially retail operations, but most offices have big parking areas that are uncovered

We can come in with a carport and put Helix over the parking area and convert that parking area into something that actually looks beautiful, and we really care about the way our systems look, and perform and operate and the reliability and so forth That's why we designed Helix And the cost Elaine:How much is the cost? Howard:The costs have come down by a factor of 10 in solar in the last 15 years Now, today, our system is competitive with retail electricity

Elaine:Wow Howard:We're saving our customers money from day 1, and they can pay for it with cash or finance it, and there's no money down, and save money, protect the environment, and protect the energy future of the facility all at the same time Elaine:Absolutely Talking about Helix, tell me a little bit about what your customers are seeking out of Helix What does Helix address? Howard:Our customers are really concerned about energy demand from a couple of perspectives

One is, their costs keep on rising, linked to the cost of energy They want to keep that under control The other thing, increasingly, they're very concerned about their carbon footprint They're coming to companies like Sun Power to develop and deliver a full turn-key solution that addresses both, controlling energy costs, controlling carbon footprint, and doing it in a very simple way Helix does that, because we've married hardware with software

The software component, we call Energy Link This is the product that enables us to communicate with the customer and monitor their system performance while enabling them to look at what the demand profile is for their facilities By understanding, there's that old saying, you can't manage something unless you measure it We measure it a lot We measure the demand part too

We're coupling that, for the very first time, never been offered before by a solar power company, to have both the solar supply side and the demand side in one convenient spot, through software, that the customer can monitor through their iPhones or their smart devices, or on their laptops and computers This enables them to control their energy costs, both capacity charges and energy charges Elaine:Wow, that sounds really great That's where the solar in a box comes in, and it's very easy to control, too, with the software Howard:Solar in a box

Easy to control Elaine:Awesome That sounds like a very promising solution, congratulations on the deployment of Helix Howard:Thank you, yeah Elaine:Thanks so much for joining us

Howard:I want to thank you, Elaine It's a pleasure

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