Solar Industry Oligopoly: MC4 "Compatible" vs “Staubli” Connectors
In recent months, the solar PV industry has been facing yet another obstacle. Many have noticed a significant shortage of Staubli connectors, a key component in the manufacture of solar panels. This shortage has created a major challenge for the industry, as it has disrupted production and delayed projects, leading to significant financial losses for many companies. The cause of the shortage has been blamed on a combination of factors, including increasing demand for solar energy and supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or so they say. Let's all do ourselves a favor and stop blaming COVID-19 on anything and everything we want to avoid being blamed for and own up.
There have been rumblings from industry experts that believe this issue has been caused by something much deeper within the industry. It appears that a few inverter manufacturers have formed exclusive partnerships with Staubli, or vice versa. This not only gives these companies an unfair advantage, but this has formed a virtual monopoly or oligopoly on the supply of these connectors. This has reduced competition in the market, making it more difficult to secure these components that are needed to produce solar modules.
Some folks believe that these challenges in the industry could be related to the incidents of certain Walmart solar systems catching fire. Walmart had contracted SolarCity, now a subsidiary of Tesla, to install solar panel systems on the roofs of several of its stores. However, a number of these systems have been plagued by fires, causing significant damage and raising concerns about the safety and reliability of solar systems in general. Investigations into the fires have revealed that the incidents were caused by faulty components, including connectors, not human error during installation. A wise woman used to tell me, “There is no such thing as coincidence”. I've been in solar over a decade and the longer I work within solar industry, the more “coincidences” I am beginning to see, and they seem to be happening at a more rapid pace. If you are like us (HIVE Mind), seeing and hearing these things tend to tug at your solar soul and make you question why certain things are not yet regulated. We believe that the MC4 connector debacle and the rise of "coincidences" in the industry are significant challenges that require immediate attention. With the right investments and the right approach, the industry can overcome these challenges and continue to grow and thrive in the years to come. By working together, the industry can ensure that the supply chain remains secure, and that competition and innovation are protected, to ensure the long-term health and prosperity of the sector.
Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts and opinions. Any feedback and/or support is much appreciated.