Devin Hawkins recently joined PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) as our new head of inverter and energy storage business. He is a seasoned solar industry professional with experience that spans inverter manufacturing, business development, PV system design and engineering. We spoke with Devin about his decision to join PVEL, his professional background and his passion for educating the market.
Tell us about your background and experience.
I’ve been an eyewitness to the rapid growth of the solar industry since I began designing PV systems at SolarCity in 2015. So much has changed since then, from the tools we use for system design to the products that are deployed in the field. In my recent role at Chint Power Systems, finding creative product applications while educating the market were central to my success.
The Chint team is rightfully recognized in the U.S. for acting as their customers’ committed advocates throughout the full project lifecycle. Our team gathered feedback and offered hands-on support from initial product development all the way through installation and ongoing service. We were most successful when we listened to exactly what our customers needed, then built a product that fit their needs. I’m excited to bring that same commitment to the success of my clients at PVEL.
What led you to join PVEL?
Solar is a quickly evolving industry. It takes considerable effort to stay up-to-date on the latest standards, technologies and best practices. I know from personal experience that there is a serious knowledge gap when it comes to inverter performance and reliability.
As the industry has matured, many developers and asset owners prioritized project creation, focusing more on development pipelines than on fleet performance. However, asset operators are becoming acutely aware of the risks and unknowns surrounding the inverters in their systems. In some cases, these unknowns can be quite devastating to the project’s successful operation and financial performance.
PVEL’s Product Qualification Programs for inverters and energy storage systems evaluate equipment on the front end, before procurement, to reduce uncertainty and mitigate risks. Our PQPs are designed to help asset managers and project builders to both select the right equipment and optimally design around the inverter and/or storage system. Ultimately, PVEL’s data can transform asset operations from an afterthought into a project development priority. It closes the knowledge gap. As the market continues to mature, I am thrilled for this opportunity to help turn long-term system reliability and performance into an industry priority.
Do you have any tips to share with inverter and battery buyers?
Make sure that you fully understand exactly what you are purchasing before signing a supply agreement. Early on in the procurement process, many buyers care about and ask for reliability and performance data. However, those initial concerns are often forgotten as project schedules tighten and purchases must be made.
I encourage buyers to give their operations and maintenance team a seat at the purchasing table, so that they thoroughly understand how the selected equipment will impact operations. Fully understanding how an inverter or energy storage system will perform before product selection can save asset owners considerable time and money once the project is operating in the field.
For a deep-dive on inverters, register for our upcoming webinar: Buyer Beware: Lessons Learned from Inverter Testing on April 6th, 2021 at 2PM EST.
How can people reach you?
Whether you are manufacturer or a downstream buyer, I am ready to discuss your inverter and battery performance, reliability and safety concerns and your equipment testing needs. Let’s talk!