Businesses selling solar cells and modules traditionally compete in the marketplace by using R&D and better manufacturing techniques to improve the efficiencies of their devices so that customers can squeeze out just that little bit more electricity per square metre of sunlight.
However, Conergy’s latest innovation is designed to provide reassurance to customers that they are buying top-notch solar products. Any Conergy customer can benefit from this latest insurance – which provides ten year protection against output decreases stemming from component or configuration defects – on top of the usual business interruption insurance that is already commonly available. And the firm says that the low price of the insurance being offered reflects the fact that its insurer is “just as convinced by our many years of experience and our quality standards as we are ourselves”.
Jörg Grigo, Conergy’s insurance specialist, says: “This insurance offers new planning and output security for customers. The customer is guaranteed 90% of the output for half of the assumed minimum lifetime of a solar plant. The insurer cannot terminate the insurance during these first ten years.”
Since two out of every three large scale solar parks built by Conergy in Europe are equipped with its own products, this move appears to be a sign of great faith in those products and a way to ensure that the company keeps its nose just ahead of its competitors.
Given that the solar industry, like many other technology industries, tends to follow a cycle of peaks and troughs, it is important for investors to look at which firms are being proactive in maintaining and growing market share during downturns. On this basis, Conergy deserves a thumbs-up for its latest idea. However, the proof will be in the pudding: it will be interesting to see how the firm’s sales results this year and next benefit from the new insurance offering.
Meanwhile, given the significant increase of interest in domestic solar installations in the UK following the introduction of a generous solar feed-in tariff earlier this year, it would be nice to see some of the vendors of roof-mounted solar modules offering similar insurance to homeowners who buy their equipment. As it stands, figures from the industry suggest an investment of more than £12,000 could generate around £900 per year in electricity savings and FiT payments, but hard-pressed UK homeowners would surely pay a small premium for some peace of mind after handing over such a large upfront sum.
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