Matt Black, a shining light in the solar energy market has joined Solivus as non exec director. Bringing significant experience of the financing, construction and operation of solar projects, Matt is also a Director of the Solar Trade Association. Matt talks to us about why he joined Solivus, his ambitions for the business and the likely impact of the Coronavirus on the renewable energy and solar sector.
Matt, how has this new partnership come about?
‘I have been talking to Jo and the team for about six months. In that time, I have been incredibly impressed by the progress they have made, the dynamism and commitment of the team. There is a real momentum. I see this as a brilliant opportunity to help with the next step, to accelerate locking in the pipeline and financing. I will be supporting and advising Jo and the team on their financing strategy and the commercial proposition.
You have a wealth of talent and expertise, what has been your career highlight to date?
In my previous role at Foresight Group I was focussed on building out a portfolio of large scale solar plants, leading the company aggregating one of the largest portfolios in Europe. My highlight was completing the acquisition of Shotwick solar plant, a complex site given the private wire PPA, and at 72 megawatt plant, the largest solar plant in the UK. I enjoyed the clear purpose of the team, the flexibility and ability to grow incredibly quickly and leading a landmark transaction for the solar sector in the UK.
What excites you about the new Solivus technology?
Installing solar on large commercial rooftops is one of the most intuitive use cases for the technology but has not yet taken off at scale in the UK. Alongside other challenges, it has been limited by structural considerations, as the roofs were generally not designed to carry the weight of a solar system, particularly buildings with wide spans. The organic PV technology Solivus is using is flexible and lightweight and can therefore be installed without the need for mounting structures. It opens up a new wave of roofs where solar installations were previously not possible. The same is true for the new generation of carports being designed using the technology which have the ability to transform this market.
What is your ambition for Solivus?
The market opportunity for Solivus both in the UK and in other markets is massive, so it becomes a question of overcoming the challenges in converting the opportunity into sales. With the partnerships Solivus has in place and the drive to grow at pace, I think the company is well placed to deliver on this. In the next two or three years we could be sitting here with a significant number of MW locked in and a greatly enhanced solar sector.
What is the likely impact of Coronavirus on renewable energy and the solar sector in particular?
The effect of the Coronavirus has been profound, as a public health issue and tragedy for those whose loved one’s have been affected, in its economic impact but also in the opportunity for reflection that has been all but enforced. In the short-term supply chains have been disrupted and its clearly more challenging to progress new projects, but the medium-term effects on the oil and gas sectors could be significant. One thing we have seen is that when Governments and people agree that change needs to be made, remarkable things can happen incredibly quickly. If a tenth of the radical reforms we have seen applied to Coronavirus were translated to fight climate change then fundamental change could be achieved. During the lockdown period pollution levels have fallen dramatically in cities across the world and that is enlightening to many people. Global leaders are already saying that after this, choices will have to be made. It will not be back to business as usual. We will have to reboot the economy, learn from experience and if the stimulus is focussed towards a green transition, then that would be truly transformative.
But in a post Covid 19 world will governments have the energy or necessary finance to shape any green transition?
While government initiatives have the power to be the most effective agents of change in this space, many of the greatest steps we have seen over the last five years have been made independent of government, by private companies, individuals and sub-state actors (cities and regions). In the past 12 months there has been a noticeable acceleration across multiple transitions, be that increased renewable energy and storage development, corporate renewable energy buying and RE100, the divestment movement away from oil and gas and the decarbonisation of transport. Those trends are playing out. There is a pause certainly but the wind is in the sails of all these sectors and things are changing. There now exists an opportunity to bring about the necessary changes in mindset to achieve the transition required.
Solivus wants to make the world a better place. We are passionate about making a difference to the environment by creating truly sustainable, clean energy products for a fast, evolving market. Our innovative, ultra-lightweight fabric has been designed for the residential and commercial sectors, but we don’t want to stop there, we have aspirations to make it available to many.
Our goal is to be pivotal in reducing reliance on non-renewable energy sources and make cost-efficient energy generation and storage through the transition to more energy efficient vehicles powered with renewable energy and trading excess renewable energy to others to create a cleaner environment for everyone.
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