“Success is measured in the people within your organisation” – CEO Q&A with Ronan Power of Pinergy SolarElectric

By Business & Finance
03 May 2023
Pictured: Ronan Power, CEO of Pinergy SolarElectric

Ronan Power is CEO of Pinergy SolarElectric, a company that operates in the Irish renewable energy sector. It was the first to scale-up and offer high-yield PV systems to the domestic, commercial and agricultural markets in Ireland. One of its key differentiators has been to provide clients with the data and insights as to how much electricity they are saving with their PV system.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

At Pinergy SolarElectric, our aim is to build a progressive culture based around strong ethics and values for our customers, employees and all other stakeholders. We are passionate about building a working environment where people can learn, grow and thrive together while delivering the highest standards of customer experience.

Whilst there are so many aspects of leadership that are important, we always face challenges and for us the key is how we bounce back from those difficult moments. One thing that is certain is that failure comes to us all at some point and the only real thing that we can do is to manage, learn, and grow. This seems like the simplest of concepts but it is the organisations that can embrace failures as opportunities to learn that ultimately end up succeeding the most.

Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed 10,000 times, I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work”. It is through let-downs that we truly achieve greatness. If someone had told Thomas that he was a failure, then we would now live in a world of darkness!

Enjoy your wins & learn from your failures, nurture those who need it as the next light bulb moment or Thomas Edison may well be already in your team!

What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

The solar sector is currently going through a period of significant growth, and although that presents us all with large opportunities, it also presents challenges associated with scaling in a young industry.

At Pinergy SolarElectric, we have taken opportunities to invest and scale our business over the past 24 months. This has meant new systems and processes as well as growing our team both in front of house and in our back office in Enniscorthy.

I have been lucky enough to be working in the Solar business for the last 18 months and the energy sector for the last decade, so am deeply immersed in the challenges and opportunities of our business and sector.

How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

To drive motivation in an organisation first you must understand what the unique drivers are, as all company cultures are different. We operate across multiple working disciplines from sales and engineering to financial and people management.

For me, creating a positive working environment and a culture of teamwork allows teams to grow together through their failures and successes. It is important to support people with solutions and encouragement to overcome challenges. However, it is equally important to recognise the great successes in our business. Celebrating a big commercial win, a birthday or even Ireland’s recent Grand Slam is important to enable a positive culture to thrive.

Everyone needs to know that they are doing a good job and contributing in a positive manner to the successes of the business. Creating clearly defined roles and expectations whilst empowering our team to excel in their roles is key.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

As the industry is still in its early stages of large-scale growth it currently remains unregulated which was fine in the past, but we must now evolve.

At Pinergy SolarElectric, we operate a safety-first approach to the field and an ethics-based approach to selling and advising customers. I believe that to maintain consumer confidence in the quality of the products that they are purchasing and the safe manner in which these are installed, more regulation and implementation of standards is a must.

Our customers are making significant investments in their own energy independence that will give returns for the next 25 years. This is equivalent to the length of an average mortgage and that sector is significantly regulated.

This seems like the simplest of concepts but it is the organisations that can embrace failures as opportunities to learn that ultimately end up succeeding the most.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

The solar industry is rapidly evolving with new trends and technologies emerging globally across panels, batteries, and inverter technology often from Asia and Europe.

One of the most important trends in the solar industry is the deployment and integration of energy storage systems. By storing excess solar energy generated during the day, batteries can offer the ability to provide power to homes and businesses in times of reduced productivity.
We brought a home optimisation solution to the market which offers further benefits to the home by making multiple decisions daily on where a home should utilise its power from (Grid, Battery, Solar). This solution, although in its early stages, will render the concept of a classic tariff redundant and create a blended cost of energy ensuring that homes always utilise the cheapest electricity available to them.

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

There are several things which I think would benefit both the industry and consumers within this sector. The Solar industry is rapidly evolving, and as solar energy continues to become more affordable and accessible it is expected to play an increasingly important role in the energy transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.

To deliver upon this promise to our customers we need, as an industry, to continue to educate our customers on the overall long-term benefits of solar, but also to give them the confidence in the investment they are making through more regulation and Standards driving greater awareness.

We are lucky to work with many great clients who see the long-term benefit of Solar for their business including Dublin Port, The Defence Forces and Musgraves to name just a few.

As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?

As the sector continues to grow, there is currently a large skills gap in the market which is presenting challenges. We run our own internal people development programmes which forms a part of our long-term strategy.

However, in the medium term, the industry could benefit greatly from investment in awareness and training for the next generation at third level, to educate them about the long-term career prospects within the sector. We would love to see specific third level courses developed that focus on Solar energy and the benefits it brings to communities.

How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

Our sector is still in its early stages and has only really developed since the economic crash of 2008. Perhaps it is a product of these times as people looked for alternative ways to manage their energy needs.

Coming out of the banking crisis, it is good to see that the financial sector is now embracing ESG and offering sustainable financial packages to their customers. Access to funding can be a key challenge for many prospective homeowners or businesses looking to invest in Solar. Luckily, we are working with both international and domestic banking partners to bring funding solutions to consumers at the point of purchase which is a very welcome development.

Creating clearly defined roles and expectations whilst empowering our team to excel in their roles is key.

How has Brexit affected you?

Historically, the Irish Solar Industry has operated through the UK distribution networks so the completion of Brexit had the potential to have a negative impact on our supply chains.

At Pinergy SolarElectric, we took the implementation of Brexit as an opportunity to review our supply chains and move further upstream. This has allowed our business to be more dynamic and competitive in the market whilst maintaining the same quality of product for our customers.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector?

As a field operations business, the COVID-19 crisis had huge impact as all field operations had to be stood down during the various lockdowns. However, we were able to install later in the pandemic when specific protocols were put in place.

Since the pandemic, we have seen evidence of homeowners wanting to invest more in their homes. As we emerged from the pandemic into an energy crisis, we saw demand significantly grow for Solar as people looked to reduce their energy costs, carbon footprints and take control of their energy future.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

There are various degrees in which success is measured within an organisation. However, from my point of view, I have always been of the belief that success is measured in the people within your organisation.

If you can have meaningful impact on your team and support them in their own personal growth, you win every time. This kind of mind set, culture and team atmosphere will also drive success within an organisation. Culture is key!

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

I have had numerous mentors over the years who have had a profound impact on me and how I operate as a leader. One of the pieces of advice I was given which still resonates to this day is, ‘a problem is a problem no matter what, so it is better addressed today than tomorrow, where it only gets worse.’ This type of attitude feeds into my beliefs that failure is acceptable and that a functioning team will support people in finding solutions to these problems. Nobody needs to figure it out alone.

By storing excess solar energy generated during the day, batteries can offer the ability to provide power to homes and businesses in times of reduced productivity.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

We recently moved into our new offices in Enniscorthy Technology Park which are reflective of the success we have had over the past 12 months and offer a working environment to our team that will allow them to collaborate, learn and grow into the future.

We are the first occupant in Senan House which is a Passive Building with a BER rating of A2. A passive building is a design standard that means Senan House will use very little energy for heating purposes and in addition Pinergy SolarElectric has installed a significant Solar PV project on the roof of the building to support all the businesses in the building to reduce their grid energy needs.

We were able to use local businesses to complete the fit out of the office which is key when integrating long term into a community.

What’s next for your company?

Over the next 12 months, we are going through further change in our technology, customer offering and operations to further underpin our commitment to bringing quality installations and benefits to our customers. One of the key opportunities for us to further develop is being part of Pinergy, who are very supportive with a leading Clean Export Guarantee payment in the marketplace. This is encouraging more and more customers to invest in solar as they can now generate revenue from their roof. A roof which up until now just kept the rain away!

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

It would be easy to say the largest in the country however, for us, success will be in the feedback and satisfaction that our customers are feeding back to us following a positive experience with us. I believe that this, as a long-term strategy, will drive confidence in our future customers that we are not only a brand that delivers, but that we are company who are easy to do business with.

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