In Focus: Solar Balance of System 0

As the cost of solar photovoltaic modules becomes an increasingly smaller piece of the “all-in” price, balance of system (BoS) has become a more prominent piece of the puzzle, subject to cost pressure as well as innovation. GTM’s Solar Summit featured several panels on BoS, ranging from electronics to cables to mounting to racks and trackers.

The conversations were occasionally heated, especially when microinverter maker Enphase and panel optimizer firm Tigo faced off. (Despite the protestations of an audience member to play nice.) SolarBridge, which builds a microinverter focused on full panel integration to create an AC module (ACM), also weighed in, but avoided the Enphase-Tigo slap-fight.

Jeff Krisa, VP of Marketing at Tigo, said that Tigo and Enphase were founded around the same value of distributed electronics. Tigo, according to Krisa, “took a different approach at delivering these features.” Krisa said the distributed electronics in the Tigo architecture “lowers the LCOE in all cases.” “Something we do is focus on delivery of data and analytics, lowering the risk of the plant and lowering the O&M.” He suggested that although Enphase has “had some success in the long tail,” the challenge is always this: how do you convince a guy in Germany  to do something differently? Krisa noted that “we’re close” and that traditional installers as well as financiers are beginning to understand the value of distributed power electronics. Krisa also remarked that the individual panel visibility enabled by the company’s approach was a feature that was moving from “monitoring” to “asset management.”

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