Interview: Bryan Ekus, managing director of Solar United

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What is behind the transition from IPEVA to Solar United?

Mostly it’s because our members were inspiring and encouraging us to be able to move in a new direction. The market is moving very quickly so to be able to adjust to that, we also have to move at that same pace. So pushing just one area would be a little complacent. Especially now that we’re seeing consolidation, we are seeing new areas where the markets are moving, we have to be able to follow that.

How would you respond to people saying that we can see the equipment market segment remaining depressed, this is just a chance for you to grab a few members from other parts of the value chain?

Some other organizations, which might have been in somewhat of a competition with us in the past might feel that is the approach that we’re taking. But that’s really not what we’re doing.

We’re looking at new ways to create value for the industry. We want to focus on topics that nobody is talking about right now, such as supply chain management, and improve the different steps of the process of manufacturing on a technology level. I don’t want you to feel that we will be competing with different organizations but we will be looking to work with different organizations.

And how much value is there really in looking at areas of supply chain?

We wouldn’t have had new members joining the organization if we didn’t think there was value. The membership fee is the trivial thing, although everyone wants to see the return on investment. So if you’re talking to someone who is working on the marketing and development area, they are always looking at where they are going to get their money back. There we can provide value on shared member pavilions [at trade shows] and we can provide discounts to key events where we’re working with key partners.

Have you had any reaction from regional organizations like SEIA or EPIA as yet?

We haven’t had reactions as such, but we will be looking to collaborate with them. SEIA and other national or regional organizations do a great job on regional or national policy development. But that doesn’t make sense for us to be doing as well, where they might not have the ability to share their technology information and to disseminate that in a way that we might be able to do.

So that’s where we have the opportunity to bring together a lot of these associations in a manner where they can communicate in regards to technology. And our members would love that, to be able to go into an emerging market and to say “hey, you don’t need to do that on your own, we can assist you.”

If you’re looking for collaboration, Solar United [is for you]: If you’re looking more for a policy relationship, then collaborate with our local partner, which could be an EPIA or a SEIA. But we see a big enough market where we can all play in the same sandbox.