What does Q Cells insolvency tell us about the market for quality PV?
04 Apr, 2012
I had a call last week from one of the team at Q Cells Australia; not about the insolvency issues but about my earlier post on PV quality and manufacturing.
Somehow, I have to get a trip to Germany because what I learned in that discussion is Q Cells for one ( haven’t heard from the rest of you yet??) have a deep understanding of quality processes in manufacturing. It is omni-present in their marketing and sales pitch and they knew exactly what I was talking about; including the required investments to make it happen.
I got an open invitation to see it first hand one day which I’ll be delighted to do and Im sure there are other manufacturers who have the balance right too.
Although their current issues are not driven by the added costs of a “pure quality” play, it does prompt me ask the question – is the market ready enough to pay for real quality?
Having struggled for twenty years to justify the price of PV I understand that price is fundamental. However, it seems that the race to affordability has been overshadowed by either the race to mediocrity or the race to un-profitability. Certainly not in all cases by any means, but we are in a peculiar stage of the markets evolution where consumers and installers struggle to recognise sufficiently, the value of true quality.
Sure the, market has segments and using automobiles as an example, a large part of the market is dominated by low cost vehicles not premium brands – like PV. But somehow the benchmark or definitions of meaningful, minimal quality standards have been lost at consumer level and perhaps more importantly at the installer level.
In a recent piece of research I did on the various Tier 1,2 and 3 manufacturers presence in Australia, this became all too relevant. Guess which Tier of manufacturers dominates the Australian market? Not Tier 1, that’s for sure, and the stats tell us that no other market in the world has favoured Tier 2 and 3 product like we have .
Australia has a forthcoming, very large price to pay for using a whole lotta low end PV I suspect.