CBD Energy's merger with Westinghouse Solar aligns with our strategy to create a more highly diversified business and accelerate access to growth opportunities in the renewable energy sector globally and in the US. The merger offers an ideal platform for the expansion of CBD Energy's business in the US, the world's largest market, and plans for U.S. operations built around its core strengths in design, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of commercial solar projects; energy efficiency and storage technologies; and energy services.
CBD Energy's merger with Westinghouse Solar
Gary Mull | Westinghouse Solar
Q1: What was the rationale for CBD Energy’s merger with Westinghouse Solar?
The combination of CBD Energy and Westinghouse Solar creates a more highly diversified business that we believe provides notable competitive advantages in the renewable energy sector. That diversification spans geography and market sectors, as well as product and service offerings. The merger also improves CBD Energy’s access to the United States; the world’s fastest growing renewable energy markets.
Q2: How will the relationship impact CBD Energy’s strategy and offerings in the US market?
CBD Energy’s pending merger with Westinghouse Solar offers an ideal platform for the expansion of our renewable energy business into the world’s largest market. In addition to building upon Westinghouse Solar’s business in the U.S., CBD Energy plans for U.S. operations built around its core strengths in design, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of commercial solar projects; energy efficiency; storage technologies; and energy services.”
A key focus of the company in the US will be in assisting customers with EPC and financing of solar projects, an area in which CBD Energy has significant expertise and sees abundant opportunity in the U.S. market. With energy deregulation, CBD Energy also sees the U.S. market as primed for growth in the area of energy services, where it plans to offer utilities and service providers a solar option to add to their service portfolios. CBD Energy also has a range of energy efficiency, power factor correction, and storage technologies that address various energy management challenges – an area often noted as “the missing link” in renewable technology.
Q3: How will the merger impact Westinghouse Solar’s business?
We have already seen the impact of bringing CBD Energy’s global reach to bear for Westinghouse Solar. Since the merger announcement, CBD Energy and Westinghouse Solar have already demonstrated significant synergies and collaboration, including partnering on an EPC contract to build a 1.4 MW solar project in New Jersey; a joint venture to build 30 MW of EPC commercial projects in Italy; and a joint agreement to begin distributing 5 MW of Westinghouse Solar Instant Connect Solar Power Systems to Harvey Norman’s Commercial Division, Australia’s largest electrical and home improvement retailer.
In general, we see tremendous opportunity in the solar market in the U.S., particularly in combining CBD Energy’s EPC expertise with Westinghouse Solar’s success in driving down installed system cost by innovating the design and ease of installation of solar panels.
Q4: What are the most recent product developments at Westinghouse Solar?
As solar panel prices have dropped, the balance-of-system costs have remained constant and now represent nearly 50% of total solar system costs. The biggest remaining cost savings opportunity is on the installation itself. And this is where Westinghouse Solar has focused recent innovations.
Earlier this year we released Westinghouse Solar Instant Connect™, the first “plug-and-play” solar panels that integrate the racking, electrical wiring and grounding directly into the panel. This completely eliminates cumbersome manual assembly processes for both residential and commercial systems. With 80% fewer parts, the product can be installed in half the time it takes to install an ordinary solar power system.
Q5: I like the idea of “plug-and-play”. Can you elaborate on how this would take place in a typical project environment and how much cost savings you expect to realize from the process?
Westinghouse Solar Instant Connect enables rapid and secure mounting of panels directly to the roof by integrating the solar panel racking directly into the panel. The patented frame design utilizes an innovative splice system that automates all connections to achieve accelerated and durable installations. When we say ‘plug and play’ we are referring to the fact that Instant Connect completely eliminates cumbersome racking, panel-to-panel wiring and grounding for both residential AC systems and commercial DC systems via use of a set of UL-approved electrical connectors that are integrated directly into the sides of each solar panel. This allows for the solar panels to automatically plug together when they are mounted. The frames of the solar panels -- and splices used to connect the solar panels together -- provide precision alignment of the electrical connectors, completely eliminating the need to manually wire panels or struggle with custom cabling on the roof. The entire system requires 80% fewer parts to install and maintain—and thus requires up to 50% labor costs. (A picture is available to illustrate this point.)
Q6: Is the solar industry in the US still growing strongly or has everyone been waiting to see who wins the Presidential Election?
The solar industry in the US is growing, and growing robustly. The market will see new installations almost double in 2012 – and we expect a similar rate of growth over the next several years. GTM Research estimated new US PV installations in 2010 at 900 MW, in 2011 at 1900 MW and in 2012 at 3200 MW.
Q7: Is the growth in the solar industry expected to be primarily in utility scale projects or is there promise in other sectors as well? If so, which sectors do you favor?
Clearly the largest growth area has been in the utility sector. Renewable portfolio standards were a key factor in driving that growth. As utility scale growth starts to level off, we will start to see growth driven by the commercial sectors, particularly in distributed solar systems installed at the point of energy consumption.
Q8: If you look into your crystal ball, where do you see the solar industry and specifically Westinghouse Solar in 5 years?
Well, it’s clear that renewables are becoming a larger and larger share of the global energy mix – and we expect to see that continue well into the future.
CBD Energy’s merger with Westinghouse Solar aligns with our strategy to create a more highly diversified business and accelerate access to growth opportunities in the renewable energy sector globally and in the US. The merger offers an ideal platform for the expansion of CBD Energy’s business in the US, the world’s largest market, and plans for U.S. operations built around its core strengths in design, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of commercial solar projects; energy efficiency and storage technologies; and energy services.
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