People of the 10th anniversary Top Solar Contractors list: Helge Biernath, Sunstall

For the 10th anniversary of the Top Solar Contractors list, we’re sharing Q&As with the people who make the industry run every day. Read more interviews here.

How did you get started with solar energy?

Sunstall owes its place in the solar industry to a fun coincidence and a lot of hard work. In 2009, I attended a GACC West Oktoberfest and met a German manager of a solar power production company who wanted to start a solar rack business in the US. As is often the case, this chance meeting started the idea behind Sunstall. Shortly thereafter, Heiko and two more co-founders, Craig and Stefan, founded Sunstall in January 2010 to support the solar industry.

What is your favorite part of working in the solar industry?

From Hawaii to Massachusetts, Sunstall has been there to bring solar power to the far reaches of the US. Our mission is to install solar in more and more states, distribute renewable energy and continue our key partnerships. See the article : Belltown Power Texas developing 640 MW of storage to accompany existing solar portfolio. That’s a cool feature in our part of the industry – we see and experience many parts of our amazing country with new challenges everywhere. Ten years later, Sunstall has worked in 23 states and installed solar power in all kinds of terrains and under the toughest conditions.

What has surprised you most about the solar industry in the past 10 years?

Probably the lack of focus on quality work. Since we are part of the power distribution system, you would expect the same control as building a “conventional” power plant, but it seems we are only focusing on the lowest capital expenditures. This may interest you : WRISE launches Speakers Bureau to help diversify renewable conference panels. In view of the useful life of the assets, we consider this a mistake. Quality is key to our future swarm-like distributed generation and distribution of energy.

What are your solar predictions for the next 10 years?

Stefan Bauer, CTO, follows the trends: “The solar industry is innovating every day, from GPS and drone use, to higher efficiency in the modules, to higher density in batteries.” The industry is innovating at every level – from business model innovations to floating solar. On the same subject : Alliant Energy to install 1-MW solar project on Iowa brownfield. “Seeing all the new changes makes it extra exciting to work in solar now,” Stefan adds.

How did you/your company stand out in the past year?

Teamwork, consistency, honesty and focus have made us stand out, survive and thrive for the past 10 years! When we started, it was only the founders trying to get the startup going, but soon after, many “Sunstallers” joined the team and supported us on projects across the country. Thank you to everyone who has worked at Sunstall to support the energy transition in our country.

How do you help improve the industry?

For years Sunstall has fostered the idea that only humans and especially the younger global generation will drive the transition from the carbon-driven economy. That’s why we had interns from Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey and Poland. These young professionals will be the champions of renewable energy sources in the future.

What was it like entering the market in 2011?

It was hard not knowing anyone in the industry, and not having performed the SOW we were very nervous. The first “big job”, Baldock Solar Highway PV south of Portland, Oregon (1.8 MW) was a big step up, but caused a lot of friction because the organization was not ready for such a large installation. In the end, the customer was more than satisfied and gave Sunstall a big thumbs up.

How has your solar business changed since it started?

The sum of failures is called experience! We had quite a few breakdowns along the way, mostly caused by weather conditions, showing that our services are dependent on project conditions. Today we have processes and tools to manage the projects better than when we started, but identifying all the risks is still a challenge.

In 2011, it was very difficult to understand which project would actually be implemented and if we had a chance of winning it. The ratio has changed for the better – most projects today are real and so the sales process is more efficient.

What advice would you give to yourself or the company ten years later in 2011?

Keep calm and carry on – good things will happen!

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