IBC SOLAR celebrates 40th anniversary and shares market insights from a solar installer survey

A survey with installation partners provides insight into current market developments.

In 2022 IBC SOLAR AG is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The industry pioneer who has become one of the world's leading providers of photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage solutions looks back at major milestones of the renewable energy market. The results of a survey that IBC SOLAR conducted in cooperation with its specialist partner network at the beginning of 2022 provides insight into current trends and market developments. The evaluation shows what homeowners and commercial customers in Germany place most value on when purchasing PV and storage systems today, and what is most important to installers when they work with suppliers.

Founded in 1982 as IBC (International Battery and Solar Power Consulting) and later called IBC Solartechnik, the company headquartered in the Southern German town of Bad Staffelstein laid a cornerstone for the development of solar energy in Germany. As one of the first European suppliers of battery and PV systems, IBC SOLAR has been actively involved in shaping many changes in the industry and has continuously expanded its own portfolio based on the respective market developments. As early as 1998, the company marketed its first own-brand PV module (Megaline). Shortly thereafter, IBC SOLAR expanded its business segments and established itself as a strong partner in the distribution and project business in the early 2000s. Right from the beginning priority was placed on the products being of high quality. In order to test and ensure this in the best possible way, IBC SOLAR built its own outdoor test facility in 2007. Since 2009, the products have also been evaluated and put through their paces in a unique and now independent test laboratory. Over time, IBC SOLAR expanded its own-brand portfolio with the first storage system (2011) and the in-house mounting system IBC AeroFix (2013) to include other important product offerings, further expanding its position as a provider of complete systems.

IBC SOLAR's recipe for success has always included close and cooperative collaboration with its specialist partners. For both sides, constant exchange and dialog form the basis for the successful implementation of projects. On the occasion of its 40th anniversary, IBC SOLAR conducted a survey among its own network of specialist partners. The results show current trends and developments in the PV market.

Findings from the specialist partner survey

Market distribution: IBC SOLAR's partners are very well represented in both the residential and commercial sectors. The responses of the more than 100 PV specialists and installation companies in Germany surveyed clearly show that the majority of orders for PV systems, 72 percent, comes from the residential segment. PV systems implemented in the commercial segment are currently at just under 28 percent among the surveyed partners of IBC SOLAR, but are increasing, because this market segment also offers a very high potential according to the opinion of the PV experts. Commercial and production companies are increasingly recognizing the high savings potential associated with PV systems. In addition, the government's increased expansion targets will also ensure strong growth in this segment.

Reasons for purchase: According to the experience of the specialist partners, the most important reasons for purchasing a PV system today include: independence from rising electricity costs (96 percent of mentions), energy self-sufficiency (78 percent) and the idea of sustainability (54 percent). Another important point is the rapid amortization of investments in photovoltaics and storage (32 percent). If these results are compared directly with the reasons for investment during the early days of PV, a clear change can be seen. In the beginning, people invested in solar energy especially because of the feed-in tariff and the resulting profit.

Criteria when choosing a system: The survey also showed what end customers take into account when deciding for a service provider. For example, according to PV specialists and installers, the most important thing for the majority of customers is that they get everything from one source (78.1 percent), i.e. that they have a central contact for the complete system. Another decision criterion for customers is high product quality (73.6 percent). Just over a third of respondents (35.4 percent) cited fast processing and delivery as an important requirement for customers. Local manufacturing of the products ("Made in Europe/Made in Germany") plays an important role for 27.2 percent of customers, followed by low price (22 percent) and high efficiency (19 percent).

Factors for choosing a supplier: The most important criteria for specialist partners to work with companies like IBC SOLAR completes the overall picture. At 90.8 percent, reliability and accessibility to customers ranked first among the mentions. The second most important factor, at 60.5 percent, is a modern, up-to-date and comprehensive portfolio that covers complete systems. In third place are services such as good after-sales service and good warranty conditions.

"The results of the survey confirm our corporate philosophy. As a solution provider, we provide high-quality and suitable products from a single source. Proximity to our specialist partners is very important to us. At the same time, we are constantly developing our portfolio. The quality of our products and the dialog within our network of specialist partners will continue to be firmly anchored in our corporate culture in the future. Through this customer and market proximity, we see ourselves optimally positioned for the upcoming market development in the coming years," comments Patrik Danz, Chief Sales Officer (CSO) of IBC SOLAR AG.

Market trends: When asked about the trends and changes that have significantly influenced the industry in recent years, 3 out of 4 professional partners cited increased legal complexity and increasing requirements (76.1 percent). At the same time, two-thirds of PV experts observe an increasing awareness of customers for photovoltaics in the context of renewable energies as well as an overall growing reputation of PV. Just under 59 percent believe that rising costs (e.g., prime costs and installation costs) are one of the most important factors influencing the market.

Future, additional areas of application for photovoltaics: In the view of the partners surveyed, these clearly lie in the area of electromobility (87.4 percent). These are followed at a great distance by application areas such as sector coupling using hydrogen (23.5 percent) or building-integrated photovoltaics (19.8 percent). The list of conceivable areas of application is long, so no clear third place can be identified. Here, blockchain and peer-to-peer applications as well as topics such as sector coupling in industry and commerce were frequently mentioned.

"The survey results clearly reflect the market developments that have been taking place in recent years. In the early days, PV was rather costly which meant that it was simply not affordable for many homeowners. Moreover, its potential was still underestimated. In the meantime, solar technology is becoming the future mainstream technology in the energy sector and is enjoying increasing popularity, especially in the homeowner segment. With solar energy, everyone has the opportunity to be a direct influencer of the energy transition – which is unique. At the same time, the PV industry is extremely dynamic and is moving at a rapid pace so we can be very excited about the next few years," summarises Udo Möhrstedt, industry pioneer and CEO of IBC SOLAR AG.