Innovation is Key to Growth in Australian Solar Manufacturing
James Larratt, the CEO and co-founder of Solpod, was recently interviewed by the Australian Manufacturing Forum about his thoughts on the potential for Australian manufacturing in the global solar market. Larratt sees innovation as the main growth opportunity for Australian manufacturing to capitalise on the success seen in the Australian solar industry.
Solpod developed the world’s first redeployable commercial rooftop solar and provides fully Australian Made and manufactured rooftop solar mounting solutions. Solpod is an Australian leader in innovation in solar, securing a $1million demonstration grant in 2018 from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for its re-deployable solar pod systems called ‘Solpods.’
Solpods differ from standard solar, in that the solar pods are rapidly installed and relocatable. Solpod has been installed on Google Australia’s Headquarters in Sydney.
Larratt shared with Australian Manufacturing Forum: “We haven’t taken on the competition of China on panels, but we do manufacture the mounting solution in Australia… And that is somewhere we can compete, [but only] through innovation.”
“We’ve got to be cleverer, the design has to be cost competitive.”
Solpod’s Australian Made and Manufactured Solar Products
Solpod proudly offers Australian Made and manufactured solar products. Solpod is currently the only business in Australia that offers Australian Made and manufactured rooftop solar mounting solutions. Supporting and promoting Australian innovation is a key value for the Solpod business founders.
Solpod caters for businesses who need more flexibility in choosing solar products that suit their needs. Solpod aims to help more businesses adopt solar with its product range, including re-deployable solar pods, commercial leasing through Solpod Rental, and innovative solar mounting solutions.
Larratt says: “I’ve been in solar for a decade and we had developed other products that were Australian made. And then when we sold that, the manufacturing then went overseas.”
“So when we set up this business, we wanted to get Australian manufacturing going. To be part of our industry again was key to why we’re investing in all this.”
Global Markets for Australian Solar Products
Solpod is pursuing opportunities to take its products to the US. Larratt said to Australian Manufacturing Forum: “The election of Biden and the underlying economics of solar really point to huge growth in the US market.”
Larratt maintains that Australia’s innovations in solar and being a country with a large solar industry, will help promote Australian manufactured solar technologies to the world.
“Like a lot of manufacturing, China has really invested and taken that leadership role. That said, there’s always an opportunity for Australian manufacturers [who] know how to play to our strengths.”
“It’s developed a whole cohort of people that are now leaders in what in Australia is a two billion dollar-plus industry.”
Australian Made Solar Mounting
Solpod’s innovation in roof mounting has been recognised by the large German solar mounting company, Schletter. In late 2020, Solpod launched an Australian Made and manufactured solar mounting range with Schletter. Known as Solpod Mini, the product is being marketed and distributed as the Schletter Eco Commercial Tilt range (SECT).
The roof mounting range is verstatile, meaning the solar panels can be oriented on roofs in variable positions, including flush mount, single orientation tilt and back-to-back tilt.
Trevor De Vries, Managing Director of Schletter Australian said: “With our global leadership and German engineering heritage, Schletter are considered a premium solution within the solar mounting systems space. Our partnership with Solpod on SECT is a wonderful endorsement of Australian innovation and manufacturing and adds real depth to our product portfolio.”
The Schletter SECT ranges uses Ullrich Aluminium, a New Zealand-based company with Australia- based branches. Solpod estimates more than 1200 jobs would be created if all Australian solar installers use only Australian-made mounting systems.
Solpod manufactures its solar mounting solutions and solar pods in Dandenong, the major manufacturing hub of Melbourne. SEMMA (The South East Melbourne Manufacturers Alliance) represents manufacturers of the area. Members of SEMMA are from suburbs including Dandenong, Dandenong South, Dandenong North, Springvale, Mulgrave, Moorabbin, Burwood, Hallam, Bayswater, Scoresby, Kilsyth, Mount Waverly, Braeside, Seaford, Clayton, Langwarrin, Oakleigh South, Dingley Village, Keysborough, Highett, Mordialloc, Berwick, Officer, Narre Warren, Carrum Downs, Wheelers Hill and Frankston,
To find out more about Solpod’s solar roof mounting solution or our rapid install solar pods, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +03 9089 0753.