Ontario: Increased PV opportunities, but module dissatisfaction exists

A survey carried out by Canada-based ClearSky Advisors has found that due to the province’s 60 percent domestic content rule, which came into force on January 1, existing customer relationships are being disrupted as installers seek new equipment brands. As a result, a "significant" number of new brands can expected to be adopted this year.

Furthermore, according to the 50 Ontario-based installers interviewed, all installer segments believe their installation levels will double over 2010 figures. Consequently, as the ClearSky analysts noted: "Equipment manufacturers that have their marketing in order should be able to capture significant growth through the installer channel this year."

Brand defection

However, the survey reportedly shows that a level of installer dissatisfaction exists in terms of PV modules. "We were surprised to see the level of dissatisfaction with some module manufacturers reported by many installers," commented Tim Wohlgemut, co-founder at ClearSky Advisors. "Independent of the recent increase in domestic content requirement, it is clear that some manufacturer brands would see installers defect to other brands in 2011."

Jon Worren, also co-founder of ClearSky tells pv magazine there are two main reasons why the installers feel this way: (i) the marketing and business practices of certain module manufacturers; and (ii) uncertainty over module supply. Thus, a "significant" number of installers are looking around for new module suppliers, which is helping to create "opportunities for manufacturers that are able to identify and target certain market segments well." However, Worren adds that while the installers have some concerns, they are highly satisfied with other manufacturers, like Sharp.

Exclusivity

Inverter manufacturers, on the other hand, are said to enjoy a "high level" of satisfaction among the interviewed installers, although the survey found that again, the number of brands used is projected to increase this year, as installers report a "low level of exclusivity".

Meanwhile, ClearSky says the province’s racking systems market is "highly fragmented and too overcrowded for all to survive beyond 2011."

Watch out for more information on the Ontario PV market next Friday.