Episode 14 of the Solar Tech Talk comes on the heels of one of the most impactful weeks for clean energy in the US. Tiernay Marsh and Aaron Bingham, BayWa r.e.’s Strategic Account Manager and Product Manager, respectively, sit down to chat about the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act and it’s impact on the solar industry. Then, they are joined by Phillip Schwartz, Co-founder and CEO of PVpallet, the newly launched sustainable shipping option for solar modules.

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Highlights from This Episode:

Inflation Reduction Act (00:16)

First and foremost, on our minds this month: the Inflation Reduction Act(IRA), which President Biden signed on Tuesday, August 16, and has been deemed one of the most influential climate bills ever to pass through Congress. While the bill contains various support systems for policy initiatives, there are several items that make a huge impact on climate goals.

What part of the IRA are Aaron and Tiernay most excited about?

  • A spend of almost $370 billion on climate programs
  • A cut in pollution levels by 40% of what they were in 2005
  • The tax provisions for solar, wind, heat pumps, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles
  • Specific project and program support for afford affordable housing
  • 60 billion in grants for projects to improve air quality, monitoring, transportation, and clean energy in poor and vulnerable communities

“We care a lot about trying to make sure that the energy transition… doesn’t leave anybody behind,” says Aaron. “Having these funds [helps] communities that otherwise would have trouble getting access to renewable energy [have] an avenue in which they can actually improve their lives in the same way that other people who adopt the technology experience.”

So, how does the IRA impact solar installers directly?

Most prominently, the extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at 30% into 2032 is a huge advantage. And while this is a very positive development, the reality is the effects of this bill won’t be seen for quite a while on the installer level.

“It could end up driving growth in a way that continues to contribute to upward pressure on pricing and that contributes to the general challenges that everyone feels,” Aaron says in reference to near term expectations around supply chain and pricing challenges in the market. “So, we anticipate that it’s just going to become all the more important for [solar installers] to be trying to plan ahead. Making sure that they establish deep and reliable relationships with their distribution partners and that those distribution partners understand what their book of business looks like in a realistic way that will allow them to accurately forecast.”

A great way to do this is have a conversation with your BayWa r.e. Account Manager who can guide you through forecasting to support your company’s best interests in the near and long term.

Introducing PVpallet (13:08)

BayWa r.e. is thrilled to announce our new partnership with PVpallet, a new sustainable shipping solution for PV modules. Tiernay and Aaron sat down with Phillip Schwartz, the company’s Co-Founder and CEO, to hear how they are reinventing solar panel shipping.
Phillip Schwartz
Co-Founder & CEO, PVpallet

What is PVpallet? (13:29)

As any solar installer knows, transporting modules using traditional wooden pallets creates a huge amount of wasted wood and many times, modules arrive damaged. PVpallet has found a solution to both these issues and is improving the industry in 2 key ways:

1. Producing shipping pallets with recycled materials that are in turn recyclable
Before they were solar installers, PVpallet’s three founders worked in agriculture, where shipping heavy bags of seed was a challenge. They saw durable solutions being used in the ag industry and asked, ‘why aren’t we doing this in the solar industry?’

“As a company, [we] have designed and are distributing the solar industry’s first reusable, recyclable, and collapsible shipping container,” says Phillip. Each pallet is made from 1000 recycled plastic milk jugs and replaces numerous one-time-use wooden pallets over its lifetime. And, after a pallet has reached end of life, it is ground up and remolded to create a new pallet.

There are over 10 million wood pallets used to ship PV modules around the world annually; PVpallet is minimizing the industry’s dependency on unsustainable shipping practices to enhance the overall supply chain system for solar modules.

2. Producing shipping pallets that keep solar modules in top condition during transportation
If you have ever watched a forklift pick up a wooden pallet weighed down with solar panels, you can visibly see the pallet bend, which means the panels are also bending… and most likely micro-cracking.

“There’s a ton of module breakage that occurs because wood pallets are flimsy and low quality and offer no protection to the cargo,” says Phillip. “We have eliminated flex in our pallets by having a two steel reinforcing tubes that run the length of the base to provide extra strength.”

PVpallet’s sturdy side walls, structured base, and supporting cross braces ensure module breakage is a thing of the past. “When you stack two wood pallets on top of each other with cargo on them the entire weight of that upper pallet, which can be upwards of 2000 pounds, is resting on top of the cargo below,” he says. The PVpallet side walls support all of that weight, removing any burden on the modules.

Getting the Solar Industry on Board (20:04)

The most exciting part of launching a new product is seeing customers get on board with a product’s purpose. “Today, the people that we are seeing get the most value out of [our pallets] are decommission and distribution companies and small installers,” Phillip explains. “And the reason for that is those companies are already having to re-palletize. Those companies are dealing with partial loads and waste issues in the field and the labor impacts and the disposal costs.”

But full adoption across the solar industry, including manufacturers, distributors, solar installers, and decommissioners is critical to have the positive environmental impact. “Generally, the feedback we’ve gotten from the manufacturers is ‘We love the product. We want to adopt it. We need to see the demand downstream to justify it,” Phillip says. This is where the BayWa r.e. customers come in. Encouraging solar modules manufacturers in the US and abroad to adopt more sustainable shipping practices will help create demand for products like PVpallet. It might take village, but together we will make our industry more sustainable.

“I love how PVpallet built sustainability directly into their model and how that’s part of their values. That’s the kind of forward thinking that we really need to have in our industry so that we can be the change we want to see in the world.”

– Tiernay Marsh, Strategic Account Manager & Solar Tech Talk host, BayWa r.e.

More From Our Conversation with PVpallet:

Watch or listen to Episode 14 for the full conversation with Phillip:

  • The full product lifecycle (recycling nerds – this is for you!)
  • How PVpallets are being used on site by solar installers
  • How solar installers get ROI using PVpallet
    • More space and stacking options
    • Less module breakage
    • Long term storage and module reuse options
    • Transporting partial loads
    • Minimizing waste removal costs and employee time
  • How to get one-on-one training for PVpallet
  • Lifetime estimate of PVpallet
  • What’s next for PVpallet – new product developments
  • Why PVpallet has chosen to partner with BayWa r.e.

Want to see PVpallet in person? Visit their team at RE+ for a demo!

Demo + Free Giveaways
Wednesday, Sept 21 | 10 am
Meeting Room 210B
No RSVP needed

The Biggest Solar Show of the Year is Almost Here!

And our BayWa r.e. team is ready to have some fun!

BayWa r.e. Solar Systems LLC supplies residential and commercial solar installers in the United States with quality solar + storage components, forecasting, business planning advice, and a community of experts. Visit www.solar-distribution.com to read our industry insights articles and stream our Solar Tech Talk and Solar Town Hall podcasts on YouTube and Spotify. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to stay connected. Ask us about our Split Pay financing program and use our industry-leading Webstore to save time, get gear shipped, and get jobs done! Part of the BayWa r.e. Global family of renewable energy companies.