(for a slightly updated version of this blog post, check out this LinkedIn Post, which has some GREAT commentary)

As far back as 2009, GTM Research has been heralding the coming disruption in the inverter market - Distributed Inverter Architectures, or Microinverters, Optimizers, and other forms of distributed or module-level power electronics. 

"The global PV market is hungry for solutions that simplify installation, eliminate redundancy and lower overall costs. Smart and AC modules can accomplish each of these objectives. Additionally, microinverters and DC optimizers will be the fastest growing inverter segment over the next five years as a result of falling costs and increasing system safety requirements," says GTMs Scott Moskowitz in the preamble to a 2015 report on the topic.  A more recent report by Scott suggests that 3-phase central inverters, once the backbone of the Commercial solar installation, will only account for 37% of that segment by 2020!  And just this week Frost and Sullivan reported they expect the MLPE market to become a billion-dollar market in 2021.

Yet, even in this and other intriguing writeups on the Module level power electronics (MLPE) marketplace, a sentence is rarely given to the founders of today's guest, yet they have created the technology that may likely be the "intel inside" of the MLPE market moving into the next century. Many have argued that MLPE doesn't make sense outside of the Residential market, but a DOE study found that "while first costs of MLPE-equipped PV systems tend to be higher than a comparable central inverter PV system, most modern MLPE products also include Web-based monitoring that allows system owners and technicians to remotely assess system performance and health at the module level."  And as Jake Hoppe pointed out in Episode 21, historically unaccounted for and thus under-appreciated savings on energy harvest as well as O&M are beginning to find their way into the financial models for many savvy C&I installers.

Welcome to Episode 23 of SunCast.  Today we take a break from the Latam Founders Series, but not from meeting yet another solid founder in the solar industry.

Well Today on SunCast, you'll meet Jon Bonanno, CCO of Empower Micro Systems.  I'm reaching back in the vault from SPI again…Today's episode was actually recorded live on the tradeshow floor!  So, again I've done all I can to reduce the background noise, so hopefully, it isn't too distracting.

Jon is a friend and mentor, and knows a Ton about technology, launching and growing new companies, and is well-versed in the challenges of the Solar Industry.

In the next 30 minutes, we discuss:

  • Jon's penchant for Making up new words
  • Why he believes Module level power electronics (MLPE) is the most appropriate technology for rooftop projects
  • Survival when you're founding companies that are way ahead of their time or the market
  • And of course, much more

We hope you get a ton of value from today’s episode, and if you’re interested in learning more about Jon or Empower, I encourage you to visit their website or ping Jon on LinkedIn. Both are in the show notes; check the blog page for resources from today's show.

If you like what you see and hear, please SHARE it with this pre-filled tweet!

And be sure to check out all the rest of the episodes in this Latam Founder series - stay tuned!!!

Resources in today's episode:


Jack Kornfield - After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path

Dr. Helen Schucman - A Course in Miracles

Empower Micro Systems website

Jon Bonanno on Linked In

Frost and Sullivan MLPE study 2016

US Dept. Of Energy 2-pager on MLPE

Most recent GTM Research report on the MLPE market

An old but nonetheless poignant article from GTM on MLPE (2014)

Older 2009 GTM write up on distributed inverter architecture

And last, a market forecast chart and a slightly dated look at the MLPE Taxonomy from GTM - anybody have updated versions?


About the Author:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com