Energizer and Sunlogics announce solar collaboration…

Today, Sunlogics and Energizer announced their partnership in the commercialization of a vast amount of solar channel products. From rooftop and ground-mount solar farms, to solar powered EV charging stations to home power systems to off-grid solar products, this partnership announcement is as vast and wide as imaginable.

According to the press release, Sunlogics will launch a variety of solar charging canopy stations. It will be interesting to see the distinction given to the Energizer branded canopies, given the increasing plethora of solar canopy makers that were exhibiting at the Solar Power International show two weeks ago.

As regards solar rooftop panels, the question will be whether or not Sunlogics brands their German produced panels (already stated by the Sunlogics CEO to be costing $1.20 per watt at full capacity without any royalty slapped on) or will they wait until their american made production begins. Rumors have it that this production is delayed while they try to figure out how to go to market with 6% efficient panels in an industry which is currently selling 15% efficient panels at sub $1 rates.

The other channels that Sunlogics claim it will “soon” market to is the home power system. Setting aside that Sunlogics has no history in the home solar market, we can hope for an alliance with a small regional company which might be looking for a distinction. If the “modus operandi” of how they got into panel technology is to be reproduced (acquiring the bankrupt remnants of EPV), then I can think of a few struggling regional home system players that might be game. The question again comes back….what distinction will this group be able to give the Energizer name that will help justify the 5% upcharge for the brand? Will be it be superior service? A product offering distinction which consumers who “set it and forget it” on their roofs will value? Time will tell on this one.

And then we have the “off grid” sector, into which my old company ICP Solar was on the cusp of delivering in summer of 2010 until the rug was pulled from under us. Here again, it takes a very different corporate culture to market to this kind of distribution channel, and ensure that it has the technical, marketing and product distinction to validate the brand.

Last but not least, was a little slip of EV chargers under the Energizer brand. Sunlogics will again most likely look outside its box for support in this fast-paced technology area as a source of product and service. With giants competing fiercely for space, it will be interesting to see how they position this range.

It is no small task, yet not impossible either. I figure it takes a good $10Million investment to be able to do justice to the Energizer brand across all of those channels. Sunlogics will have to ensure it has a team capable of really handling each of these verticals, not by word, but by proven and experienced deed. Some will argue that if they’ve developed high tech switching equipment, they can certainly develop simpler-technology products. I would agree…if Sunlogics had oodles of time and the financial bandwidth to make a few mistakes along the way. In the situation as I see it, there will not be a lot of room for mistakes given all of the channels and promises to deliver on.

I personally hope that they succeed. Energizer is a magnificent organization with great people across all channels. I had the pleasure of working with some of them for close to two years and despite the challenges, always found their manner as professional and simply desirous of supporting our success. And there are certainly great people within Sunlogics, who are talented and capable. The challenge of satisfying the two giant brands they are now associated with, GM and Energizer, will surely test Sunlogics‘ leadership in the near term, as the market is flooded with oversupply gluts, dropping prices, and evaporating subsidies. As for Energizer, this is a no-lose situation. The great amount of publicity achieved will help elevate their brand, so long as the execution and service provided beyond the product is in strict keeping with their consumer’s expectations.

Four verticals in solar, plus one in EV charging. Five distinct types of  development, operation, finance and sales processes. One company. It will be certainly an interesting ride…



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