By Angiolo Laviziano, CEO, REC Solar; Ethan Miller, Vice President of Construction Engineering and Design, REC Solar
PV industry module and component manufacturers have brought down costs significantly over the last four years. This trend is clearly evident as most publicly traded companies continue to grow revenue despite falling module and component prices. However, it is far less clear how downstream system integrators are handling the drop in system prices and contributing to value creation. System prices are generally higher in the U.S. than in Europe, despite lower module prices in the U.S. This disparity often raises questions on the part of European PV professionals where these costs come from, and secondly, what have U.S. system integrators done to reduce costs. This two-part series will shed light on how U.S. system integrators have undertaken tremendous efforts to decrease cost and add value through innovation by focussing on labour-intensive value creation in the downstream segment. Part I will focus on the residential market segment by delving into activity cost savings through innovation in engineering and construction, while Part II will illustrate how changes in sales, rebates, interconnection, and the supply-chain management over the last five years have reduced costs.