Matching innovation and investment in the solar industry

MaRS came to our office the other week to make a documentary for their ‘Meet the Entrepreneurs’ series.  You can watch the video, which focuses the lens squarely on John Paul Morgan and on the innovation process, here. It compliments another just-released MaRS video – this one of a seminar on solar energy investment that they hosted with Deloitte and Ogilvy Renault. Nic Morgan was one of the industry panelists.

A key point that comes through in both videos is the need to match risk-taking innovators with risk-taking financiers – of course, the risk has to be carefully evaluated, and grounded in what’s possible.

3 points made on this topic:

1. Innovation is not a single event.  It occurs well before start-up and well after. (said most directly in the second video by Professor Ted Sargent, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto)

2. It takes 4-5 years for a technology to be tested and integrated into the market.  The implication of this for renewable energy is that grid parity – the point at which renewable energy production meets or exceeds the cost of conventional energy production – is in sight.  Likely around 2016, according to Scott Nichol, President & CTO of 6N Silicon Inc. (or sooner).

3. There is no room for technologies that aren’t groundbreaking.  If your whole business plan is based on opening up a factory in China, making cheap silicon panels, and hoping to attract customers – you may not be around for the long term (Kerry Adler, Director, President, & CEO, SkyPower).

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