Hurricane Katrina was devastating to the people of New Orleans, and will forever be regarded as a painful episode in American history. It’s been revealed that at least 1,836 people perished as a result of the hurricane, many of whom were from poor minority groups and unable to flee the city. The pictures from the disaster are unforgettable. However, in the aftermath of this terrible disaster, there’s been a ray of light in the form of new and improved construction atop the ruins. The US government dispersed grants to rehabilitate the worst-affected and poorest areas, with this story turning out to have an important environmental Israeli side to it.
The neighborhood called “River Garden Apartments” was, pre-Katrina, a shabby and poorly constructed area. Since the disaster a whole new array of structures and infrastructures has been established – regarded as some of the most innovative and advanced in the field of regional planning, construction, infrastructure, material and preservation of natural resources. Solar panels have been erected on the rooftops of the houses, in an accumulated power of 420 kilowatts, supplemented by Israeli company Solaredge. Survivors of the disaster now live in a new and modern neighborhood, enjoying Israeli technology at its best, which is no longer a mere promise, but rather a true and visible reality.
Solaredge is actually still a start-up, chronologically speaking, since it was only established in the summer of 2006 and is therefore not even 6 years old – but the company is on target to wrap up 2012 with a revenue of over $100 million.
It’s no surprise that it was specifically Solaredge’s technology which was selected to provide solar energy to the “River Garden Apartments”. The Company develops chips, hardware and software to optimize conversion of energy from the sun to electricity with photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. According to the Company, its systems are capable of producing up to 25% more energy from every solar panel. In addition, their technology enables monitoring of the performance of each solar module, giving customers notifications about malfunctions and energy wastage in the system, in order to allow pinpointed treatment wherever a problem arises, and to allow optimal activity of the system.
Solaredge set out to address the problem whereby solar panels were not producing the maximum energy in their capacity, due to shade and other technological problems. Solaredge saw maximizing the efficiency of the panels as the most important challenge in the PV field, which is why it decided to focus activity in this area. Another interesting competitor in this field is also Israeli, a company by the name of Tigo.
Europe Still a Strong Market
Solaredge was founded in 2006 by Guy Sella, who serves as the company CEO and Chairman, Yoav Galin, VP Research & Development, Meir Adest, VP Core Technologies, Head Software Engineer, and Lior Handelsman, VP Product Strategy & Business Development. The company employs 210 people, 180 of whom are located in Israel.
The company’s main manufacturing factory, located in Migdal Ha’emek, was established for the company by Singapore-based Flextronics, and employs 220 factory workers. Solaredge currently exports some 2 million products annually with a production capacity of 400 megawatts, and the company sells its products in 32 countries around the world – in Europe, the U.S., Asia, Australia and more. To this end, Solaredge has offices in Germany and the United States, and has a presence in France, Japan, China, the UK and Italy.
During the 6 years of its existence Solaredge has raised $98 million, with an impressive roster of investors including: GE Energy Financial Services, Walden International, Opus Capital, Lightspeed and Norwest (NVP) from California, and the Israeli capital funds Genesis Partners and Vertex Israel.
The company has cemented collaborations with major international players in the solar energy field, such as British energy giant British Petroleum, German Panel Manufacturer Schott Solar, Isofoton from Spain and General Electric.
Despite the fact that many people mourned Europe as a viable PV market, according to Solaredge’s VP Marketing, Lior Handelsman, Europe is very much still relevant – with Italy as a dominant force. According to him, the U.S. is also a significant market, and there is lively demand too in Japan, China and Australia.
The global PV market contends with challenges that are far from simple, and the major players within it are working hard to maintain their position, especially since Chinese manufacturers are growing so rapidly. It is significant therefore that a young start up has been able to amass such an impressive sales volume so quickly. Given the short length of time it’s taken the company to evolve, it’s hardly surprising that its owners intend Solaredge to become global – with billion-dollar sales.