Photovoltaics Industry Faces New Challenges. Michal Skorupa, Chairman of the Board of E.On Foton Ltd

Photovoltaics Industry Faces New Challenges. Michal Skorupa, Chairman of the Board of E.On Foton Ltd


Experts stress that growth of the Renewable Energy Sources market in Poland is at the fastest pace in history. What according to you is the main motivation when choosing photovoltaics?

The market for renewable Energy sources rose at the end of december 2021 by 35,8%, in comparison to 2020. Usable power of photovoltaic installations was at 7,6 GV , which means a growth of 93,6% in respect to december 2020. Largest portion of RES available power was from photovoltaics – 45% beating out wind farms.

Main motivation for choosing photovoltaic installations are economic, social and ecological benefits. Photovoltaics is the beginning of the Energy transformation, not only on a large scale, but also on the individual client level, here and now in your own home. Prosumers can take advantage of non-refundable grants, discounts or regional programs, which are implemented regardless of EU directives. Initial financial barrier disappears and the overall cost of the investment is lowered.

Photovoltaics guarantee independence from the electrical grid in case of blackouts. These installations allow for overall Energy coverage ranging in lighting, heating, air conditioning or powering devices and electrical machines. Prosumers are free off rising costs of electricity, which in the last few months have skyrocketed.

Rising popularity of this technology amongst prosumers comes in the aftermath of desire to invest in rising value of real estate. This investment will allow for nice savings in households or any companies budget.

Finally, installation of photovoltaic panels is one method for fighting global warming and a way of reducing our carbon footprint. Energy from the sun is completely clean and safe for the natural environment. Photovoltaics is within range of interest to people who care about the environment as well as firms that want to increase their competition through pro-environmental actions.

What is necessary for the photovoltaic market to continue its sprite growth?

Photovoltaic industry faces new challenges. A new chapter about market growth and investment possibilites begin. Key issue is prosumer knowledge, so they will be able to determine what method and duration of using that Energy, to effectively adjust to their needs. This whole Energy movement is gearing towards local production and Energy use in real time. A complementary approach to Energy transformation is needed on your own property. Solar panels are only the beginning for building a hollistic system, combining with Energy storage, heat pumps, electric car charging stations or air conditioning and maybe in the not so distant future – hydrogen based economy that works with these devices.

The market is changing and consolidation within the industry is happening. Companies such as E.On Foton will play a deciding role in this process, able to present a comprehensive and integrated offer. Companies that focus solely on fragmentary services, will be forced to redesign their company to meet the needs of the market. Legal changes will influence the photovoltaic market, as well as ability to lower investment costs due to additional financing and tax preferences. We have to keep in mind the need for stable regulations. Environmental awareness is rising amongst people and costs of Energy rapidly rising, are the driving force behind alternative methods for acquiring Energy.

Next issue we need to address has to do with need for Energy transformation, which require investment in growth and modernization of networks through distribution companies. Whereas at the current growth rate of the RES industry and without elasticity to the system in the industry, temporary blackouts in the RES sector will become regular.

Present potential for a nationwide grid is at the limit of sufficiency and it goes in hand with increased risk of exceeding RSE usage limits through the nationwide network. Need to secure a rational economic growth within the photovoltaic industry, it must be coordinated best as possible with the transformation of the Polish Energy network. Failure to properly address these actions could mean high costs of recompensation to the producers of electric power, who stand to lose money due to temporary limitations in production in accordance to the Provider. According to information given by Polish Energy Network, it cost Germany about 710 mln euros to produce power from photovoltaics, wind and cogeneration in the year 2020. Learning from other european countries, Poland can avoid certain mistakes in development of renewable Energy sources.

At the end of last year Foton Technik changed its name to E.On Foton. What was the purpose for rebranding? What changes will affect your company and its clients?

The rebranding to E.On Foton has to do with ownership change within Innogy Group, as we are a part of them. E.On Group is one of the biggest Energy companies in Europe, it operates in 15 countries and services over 50 million clients. E.On Foton’s role within E.On Group Poland will be very specific, branching out its services relating to renewable Energy, offering clients innovative, effective solutions in the field of Energy production, heating and cooling. The rebranding will not affect in any way present contracts and services offered by our company to our clients. It does give opportunity for growth, through our newest RES technologies, which have gone through tests. During the transformation process, we are putting emphasis on educating prosumers – proper management of generated power, storing excess power or skillfully increasing auto-consumption. European standards are the backbone of our brand, currently have the possibility to further strengthen the companies position on the market and as the leader of renewable Energy market in Poland.

Does E.ON Foton plan on increasing its range of services with respect to fusing with its new owner –  E.ON Group?

Maintaining its position as the leader in photovoltaic installations in Poland, our goal is to expandon  our offer, to even better address the needs of our individual clients, business and farming households. Especially important now, due to forecasted changes on the market, we are focusing on complementary products such as heat pumps, Energy storage units, charging stations and air conditioning.

Renewable Energy is our fundamental and basic service from the inception of the company, as E.ON Foton we will remain focused on proposing services affiliated with RES. On the strength of E.ON  we intend to implement new technologies, in which photovoltaics is the building block and one of the elements leading to Energy independence. We are considering many technologies which will revolutionize photovoltaics in the near future: photovoltaic modules intended to integrate with individual building architecture, veneers that blend in with the Surface where panels are installed, or virtual solar panels. Using Foton Groups strength and experience we can be the ones creating competition and set standards for newest quality in the renewable Energy market and use the newest, but tested and true solutions in the Group.

Did the covid crisis affect the photovoltaics industry or is it rather resiliant to instabilitites in the economy?

The global pandemic did not slow down the expansion of the photovoltaics sector in Poland. The investment boom in solar panels is still going strong, even after a few years and photovoltaic installations are the choice of not only private households but also firms and farming households. The Polish sector, unlike many countries in Europe, at the moment a disorganized prosumer character. Citizens are interested in producing free Energy for their own use, using available programs and regulations in order to avoid future price increases. Photovoltaics is helping with just that, its beginning the Energy transformation.

The covid crisis really just showed the need for uninterrupted delivery of solar panels and lower dependence on new technologies and components being imported from abroad. Additionally it showed the negative outcomes of outsourcing mass production beyond the European Union. The photovoltaic industry will be affected in the near future by the need to modernize infrastructure, and expanding the electric grid. Especially since in the midst of having the EU pushing to further reduce our carbon footprint.

How does the photovoltaic market look like in Poland comparing to other markets? Are we far behind western markets?

2021 saw an increase in power generated in the photovoltaic industry in Europe, it was the biggest in history, at 25,9 GV. It represents a 34% increase comparing to 2020 (19.3 GV). Poland is the fourth biggest photovoltaic market, coming in with 3.2 GV. Germany is in first place followed by Spain and Netherlands. At the same time, Poland surpassed other big players in photovoltaics in Europe – including France, which has at the moment stable enough output from its nuclear power as its source, which is at 70% of power.

The drive behind this increase up till now were yard installations, their growth should be looked upon as beneficial to prosumers during tax season because of lower VAT and (for household systems installed on the exterior) and tax breaks. It is a curious situation whether approaching changes in tax calculations for prosumers, do not impede on the market growth in Poland. As an example: in Great Britain, after taking away grants for solar panels, sales fell by 94% in just one month. High inflation, rise in costs of nearly every component, exceeding the rate of inflation, photovoltaic modules, power inverters and steel supports – which cumulate to 70% of the entire cost of the investment has an impact on industries within the RES sector.

Regardless of this, Poland’s role in the industry is seeing a dynamic increase comparing to other european markets, experts forecast that until 2025 our power output will double to 12.5 GV. The same rate of increase is expected in photovoltaics in all of Europe – between 2022-2025 on average 18-20% – according to experts at SolarPower Europe. European Unions prognostics according to their climate policy predict a 45% presence of renewable Energy to the year 2030. This is still not enough to fulfill.

Michal Skorupa – Chairman of the Board, E.ON Foton Ltd.

Michal Skorupa has eighteen years of experience in sales, creating and implementing strategies and corporate processes, and in building teams in many facets of the company. Working in the Energy sector 10 years, and the past six year with photovoltaics and renewable Energy on national and international levels. As an expert in the industry he is proactive in overlooking legal matters and acts dedicated to Energy. From july 2019 he manages E.ON Foton Ltd, and has been working with E.ON Poland (formerly Innogy Poland) since 2011, where he was a part of the Memeber Supervisory Board. With visible success he is expanding the company in business strategy, sales and operations, thanks to which E.ON Foton is at the forefront of the RES sector in Poland. Thanks to his experience and professional success, he deserves the mantle of leader and strategist. He got his MBA (Masters of Business Administration) from the Warsaw Main School of Commerce (SGH) in 2017.

Last Updated on June 23, 2022 by Anastazja Lach