PMSilvana Giger, Switzerland Global Enterprise
The Geneva-based cleantech company has developed new panels that deliver carbon-free thermal energy between 80°C and 180°C. These panels are game-changers for the most energy-demanding applications in the world, from the food & beverage sector, to the oil industry, and even for air cooling. In an interview, Jonathan Koifman of TVP Solar explains what is behind the project and what its export strategy looks like.
Panels from TVP Solar in Kuwait
Jonathan Koifman, how does TVP Solar’s product differ from other solar systems?
TVP high-vacuum solar thermal flat plates uniquely deliver 80°C-180°C without mirrors or tracking, directly driving application machinery in any environment. As the only Solar Keymark-certified solar thermal collector to achieve an operating temperature of 200°C, TVP harvests the sun to provide a new carbon-free thermal energy source, outperforming fossil fuels on cost.
For whom do you engineer it?
Ultimately, TVP solutions target industrial and commercial heating and cooling end users. The panels can be used in sectors like oil & gas, food & beverages, district heating/cooling, dairies, shopping centers, or warehouses with thermal needs of up to 180°C. In fact, this temperature need addresses about 18% of the global yearly energy demand (64 out of 360 EJ)!
Why is it important for your company to focus on cleantech?
The TVP solution IS cleantech! Energy converted from sunlight to heat can now directly cut carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuels with an economically viable solution, certified and proven in practice around the world. As fluctuations in the energy supply market increase more and more, along with political and corporate sustainability pressures, end users are looking around for an energy supply that is not only “clean” but also stabilizes supply; by definition, with the sun rising every day, solar thermal energy is an immediately viable option.
You work with business partners worldwide. How important is international trade for your business? What are your most important markets?
TVP is a small company with a huge potential impact worldwide. In order to maximize efficient coverage, we partner with local experts who have both the knowledge and verticals to quickly, correctly, and efficiently propagate our unique solar thermal solution. Basically, local business partners bring highly valuable local market knowledge, end-user credibility, technical skill for local operations and maintenance after installation, and most importantly act as the bridge between the end user and TVP, the panel supplier.
Given that the thermal and cooling industries are cornerstones of international business (123 out of 360 EJ, 34% of total energy use!), TVP understands that it must also ensure a global supply and impact. Initially we are targeting regions with high irradiance and/or high fuel costs (or upcoming changes in fuel costs), such as the GCC (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE) and India. Additionally, we are currently working hard in Italy, France, Brazil, and soon in the USA, where incentives and other government tools boost the adoption of TVP solutions.
International growth will be easy once we are established in a few markets worldwide.
What are the challenges for Swiss cleantech companies in international trade?
In general, all Swiss cleantech companies will face the same concerns, especially in the early adoption phase: “Will this work for me in my country?” “How can I justify the cost?” Of course, these are always the issues presented to any cleantech company! By pushing awareness via roadshows, partner training, and events, TVP has been concluding partnerships and recently started implementing full-scale installations in the Gulf countries and soon in Europe. Having local partners boosts trust, and the local installations are key to proving operation and fostering replicability.
How easy or difficult is it for Swiss cleantech companies to grow internationally?
Any Swiss product has the immediate cachet of being a high-quality device, even a luxury. This both helps and hinders cleantech companies: considered to have excellent design, they are simultaneously also thought of as expensive. On the one hand it is easier to open a door for discussion. On the other hand we have to work much harder to prove the economics in today’s environment where cash is king.
At the end of the day, international growth will be easy once we are established in a few markets worldwide. With local installations, the “Swiss” cachet will only help foster further trust and boost growth.
On September 19, you will be represented at the Swiss Energy and Climate Summit in Bern with your own stand. What do you hope to achieve with this presence?
We want local awareness and a push for adoption! The Swiss market has incentives in every canton but few to no solar thermal installations to cut expensive and polluting fuel oil or diesel. This is a big surprise, and TVP’s main goal at the Swiss ECS is to help people understand that there is a solution for 80°C-180°C heat (especially in dairies, food processing, and district heating) that not only makes systems green but also truly cuts operating costs. TVP is targeting a first installation up and running in Switzerland by the end of 2018 to demonstrate this in detail. We are already working with SIG in Geneva and Services des Energies d’Yverdon on district heating projects. In fact, we invite all local energy services to come visit our booth to discuss how we can cut their operating costs while still supplying client-demanded clean heat to their homes and business!
SOURCE: Swiss Global Enterprise - http://bit.ly/TVP_SwissECS