We recently welcomed Kevin Gibson to PVEL as our new president. As PVEL’s first client when our operations began in 2010, he already knows our company well. His mandate is to drive the next phase of sustainable, long-term growth at PVEL. Our team is thrilled that Kevin’s past work with PVEL is bringing the voice of our customers into our strategic plans and daily operations. We spoke with Kevin about his passion for solar technology and his vision for PVEL’s continuing success.
You are joining PVEL from Solaria Corporation, a PV module manufacturer that you co-founded in 2003 and led through the years as CTO, COO, and President. Can you share a few highlights from your experience at Solaria?
From the beginning, Solaria focused on reducing the cost of solar power through innovative design, advanced manufacturing processes, and efficient operations. In terms of product development, creativity and flexibility were central to our success. Yet technology was only one piece of the puzzle. We also had to win customers in a very competitive market. Addressing customer needs is ultimately what made Solaria successful during my time with the company. The process of truly listening to our customers and internalizing their needs as our own was just as vital as technical advancement to our business in the long-term.
Through many cycles of corporate growth and contraction, I learned first-hand that bringing new technologies to market is extremely difficult. Every design and component change introduces the risk of failure. Yet these risks are worth taking, and they can be mitigated. At the end of the day, for solar PV to overtake fossil fuels and dominate the global energy mix, technical innovations that reduce costs and improve performance without jeopardizing quality are crucial.
What led you to join PVEL? What makes you optimistic about the company’s future?
I am fascinated by PVEL’s business, and I believe that independent testing is growing in importance as the global solar market expands. First, the push to extend project lifetimes puts pressure on manufacturers to extend warranties. Second, manufacturers are working harder than ever to bring differentiated products to market to reduce costs, increase performance, and improve reliability. In this dynamic new era of solar and storage innovation, downstream buyers have even greater needs for empirical data that validates long term product performance and reliability.
My experience at Solaria proved that independent testing is instrumental to the commercialization of solar products. We relied on PVEL’s test results to refine our product designs during R&D, and we leveraged Solaria’s listing in the PV Module Reliability Scorecard to secure our place on customers’ approved vendor lists. I am personally familiar with the value that PVEL’s testing brings to every segment of the solar industry, and I am confident that PVEL will grow in the years to come.
What are your goals as PVEL’s new president?
As demand for renewable energy soars, PVEL’s business has the potential to expand exponentially. Over the past two years, PVEL doubled in size – and while that is impressive, we have more work to do. As PVEL grows in the years to come, we must optimize operations so that we provide our clients and the market with more data, more efficiently.
As GWs are added to the collective global solar pipeline, more developers, investors and asset-owners need to qualify products for procurement. With technology advancing as systems age, more asset owners need data to guide product replacements and repowering initiatives. When power plants underperform or extreme weather and other force majeure events inflict damage, data from our field testing helps asset owners and insurers repair plants completely and cost-effectively. To meet all of these steadily increasing demands for data, PVEL must expand.
As we grow in the years to come, the satisfaction of our customers and partners will always be the foundation of our business. With that in mind, my chief goal is to drive the next phase of PVEL’s development with a sustainable, client-centric approach. I will bring the perspectives of our customers and partners into every plan and decision that we make. By redoubling our focus on customer satisfaction, we can carefully manage our growth and continue providing the data that matters to the global solar industry.