An Interview with Peter van Berkel of Enphase Energy

Enphase Energy has introduced a new energy management system which the company presented at the SolarEnergy UK Trade Show in October.  The new system enables large-scale implementation of solar across the globe and has been been designed to help integrate the critical technologies needed to solve solar energy challenges at scale, such as smart grid intelligence, communications, big data analytics and storage. REM talked to Peter van Berkel, Enphase Energy’s General Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa to find out more.
An Interview with Peter van Berkel of Enphase Energy

Tell me about Enphase Energy and what you are up to

We started in the US in 2008, our first product being a microinverter. In 2012, we entered the UK, launching at the SolarEnergyUK Trade Show. As a company, we started with inverters but we didn’t stop there. We’ve now moved into energy management through a generation, control and storage system that shifts the focus from solar systems to energy systems. This is called the Enphase Energy Management System and it has been one of the main products we’ve been demonstrating at this year’s SEUK.

Tell me about your new Energy Management System

The Enphase Home Energy solution is one that integrates smart energy generation (via our microinverter technology) with a high-performance energy storage solution. This manages the communications and collects data between the devices to create a receptive and mindful system optimizing the energy use of the consumer. Our storage, powered by the new Enphase AC battery, is capable of a well-managed bi-directional power flow. Enlighten, an intelligent web based software platform is integrated with the AC battery and automatically configures a charging and discharging profile. Add this to our microinverters and you get a truly communicative and intelligent system.

How did Solar Energy UK go?

We were there to demonstrate our new fully integrated system to installers. Many expected the mood in the conference to be downbeat but actually everyone seemed to be fairly resilient. People are determined to fight temporary setbacks.  After all, it’s innovations like the battery and storage capability being integrated into the solar system that improves the offer to consumers and provides new opportunities for the industry and its players. This is the industry’s silver lining during these difficult times – we have a lot to be optimistic about when it comes to technology.

There are widespread predictions of imminent doom for the UK solar sector, but some are saying that it will encourage the sector to wean itself off subsidies sooner by finding innovative ways of financing projects. What is your outlook on this?

Many companies out there will struggle, that’s a fact. As an industry we are obviously unhappy about this. The Government is right to encourage the sector to become more self-sufficient but it is the pace at which this is done that matters. Now suddenly changing the approach creates uncertainty and deters companies from investing further as the returns on their investment are not clear or secured.

That said, we must also be realists and take the opportunity to focus our priorities. The solar industry will move forward and  this regulatory move by the Government will sort out the good companies from the bad ones. The good ones will be those thinking about how to invest and innovate in such a climate. It will also force a lot of companies to focus on cost control measures ultimately to the benefit of the consumer.

Is it of any surprise that large companies, such as SolarCity, are pulling out of the UK? Is this a general feeling among companies right now in your experience?

No, not at all. Some companies like SolarCity run a tight financial model, so if that model doesn’t work in a particular environment, they will pull out, naturally. We shouldn’t draw the conclusion from this that the UK market in general is not profitable anymore.

What do you think of the new emergency plan by the Solar Trade Association (STA) to save solar?

We are in talks with the STA and BPVA in their efforts to mitigate cuts. Alternative proposals should be welcome from all sides and the Government should be open to such proposals.

What can ordinary people do, alongside businesses, to save UK solar?

The easiest answer to that is not to be afraid of solar but also to be curious about it. People should look at how far solar has come and realise that solar is for them and that there are important benefits of investing in solar. However, it is also about awareness. At the moment, many people think that solar is not for them. Naturally I disagree.

What are your plans for the future?

I think we are at the forefront of an acceleration of solar becoming more an integral component in how consumers will manage their overall energy use. The benefit and need to better manage and control our energy consumption will complement solar and further support its acceptance. Many new technologies and innovations are being developed especially also related to the opportunities brought on by the Internet-Of-Things.

For additional information:

Enphase Energy


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El jurado de la feria ees (la gran feria europea de las baterías y los sistemas acumuladores de energía) ya ha seleccionado los productos y soluciones innovadoras que aspiran, como finalistas, al gran premio ees 2021. Independientemente de cuál o cuáles sean las candidaturas ganadoras, la sola inclusión en este exquisito grupo VIP constituye todo un éxito para las empresas. A continuación, los diez finalistas 2021 de los ees Award (ees es una de las cuatro ferias que integran el gran evento anual europeo del sector de la energía, The smarter E).