What is the real value of photovoltaic solar applications for customers?

The value to a customer is the perceived worth a product or service offers compared with the possible alternatives

What is the real value of photovoltaic solar applications for customers?

When I was surfing the Internet with the goal of finding the real value of photovoltaic solar applications to customers, I was looking for a clear statement that explained how to uncover and measure their value.

I found the following formula that is universally accepted as a good representation of the value perceived (Vp) by a generic customer:

Vp = (Qp x Sp) / (C x T)

where:

  • Qp = Quality perceived. Must be continuously increasing because Customers perceive quality when they meet products and solutions that meet their requirements;
  • Sp = Service perceived. Must be continuously increasing because it is related to how well a Company takes care of the Customers: availability, responsiveness, accuracy, etc...;
  • C = Cost. Must be continuously decreasing to increase the Vp, reducing overall costs (purchase, operational, downtime, etc…);
  • T = Time Must be continuously decreasing to increase Vp, reducing time to response, deliver and supply.

The value to a customer appears to be the perceived worth a product or service offers compared with the possible alternatives. Any activity, service or product that helps the customer solve his problems or satisfies his desires has value and that value is the price he or she is willing to pay for it.

For us this means knowing every customer desire throughout the PV value chain from engineering, project management, procurement, sales, operations, through to R&D, etc...). What keeps a customer awake at night?

What’s important to realize is that it is the customer who decides what is of value, not ABB, and this means that we must pay attention to what our customers are saying and what they are saying is that quality, service, cost and time are what they value. These values appear as market trends, which for solar PV applications are seen as follows:

  • greater capacity - 1500V DC systems expected to grow from 14 MW in 2014 to 96 GW in 2020;
  • the need for reliable products in harsh environments over the 25-year plus average lifetime of a solar system;
  • grid connection monitoring, management and protection to support the growth of distributed energy production and protect grid stability and energy quality;
  • the need for worldwide organizations to support a market with no boundaries;
  • the availability of a complete portfolio from sun to socket to make business easier for Utilities, EPCs and System Integrators;
  • a drastic reduction in overall cost of solar PV systems. It is the price of photovoltaic modules that are a key factor in deciding the cost of the solar PV system

We must, therefore, address the following:

  • Changing trends - Very quickly in the last years the technology managing the DC side of a PV plant evolved from 600V DC to 1000V DC and is now standard at 1500V DC.
  • Harsh and extreme environments - Products capable of withstanding severe environments with extreme temperatures.
  • Product coordination - Total protection of the system to make it 100% safe from the solar panels to the inverters through to the grid. Here product coordination is the key.
  • Worldwide approvals - Products, systems and solutions manufactured in one Country are installed worldwide in other Countries, with different Standards (IEC, UL, CCC, etc…).
  • Complete portfolio - Solar projects have very short commissioning times, and are located in remote places across the world. That’s why global availability of a wide portfolio of products, systems and solutions is key to success.
  • Edge technologies - Be sure to exploit tested and safe technologies coming from suppliers who are market leaders and authoritative in PV applications, able to grant the most updated technology at reasonable prices.

And this is how we’re doing it:

  • Portfolio - ABB can supply “sun to socket” solutions. A unique supplier for the complete scope of a PV plant, offering full support for optimized solutions applicable of operating in every market.
  • Winning products - Unique and market leading solutions for every part of the PV plant, including dedicated R&D support to help customers through the selection of optimal components sets.
  • Solutions - Standardized solution packages for both the DC and AC side of a PV plant. Combiner boxes, circuit breakers, switch disconnectors, fuse disconnectors, fuses, residual current-operated circuit breakers, grid connection relays, metering devices, surge arresters, remote switching contactors, consumer units and enclosures suitable for outdoor installation and specifically designed for PV applications. String and central inverters, Medium Voltage stations, eHouses for grid connection to SCADA and plant automation. And, last but not least, the ABB AbilityTM architecture that allows better and faster supervision, management, update and scheduled maintenance of any part of the PV plant, and thanks to remote digital reporting, accessibility from anywhere at any time through PC, tablet or Smartphone.
  • Service - ABB has been a leading player in the solar power industry since the early 1990s and can support customers through a global service network with local specialists to meet any local needs.
  • About the author
    • Federico Mai
I joined ABB in 1997 and have been in charge of EP division Solar industry Marketing Communications since ABB decided to enter this exciting market in 2006-2007. I believe in renewable energies and I’m a fan of electric vehicles because I’m convinced that both are the only way for a sustainable future. And it seems that now is the time for this great change to take place!
I joined ABB in 1997 and have been in charge of EP division Solar industry Marketing Communications since ABB decided to enter this exciting market in 2006-2007. I believe in renewable energies and I’m a fan of electric vehicles because I’m convinced that both are the only way for a sustainable future. And it seems that now is the time for this great change to take place!

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