CEO's Outlook for the Next Five Years: Hoymiles' Present, and its Next 5 Years
On the Solar Industry and Policies
Q: Recently, the proportion of distributed PV in China has been gradually increasing compared to its total installed PV capacity. What do you think is the leading cause for this explosive growth in the number of distributed PV power stations? Looking further ahead, what do you think the distributed PV industry will look like in 5 years? Additionally, what changes and challenges will the industry face?
A: Ever since we founded Hoymiles, we believed that distributed PV would one day become mainstream. This is because solar power generation requires large amounts of resources or surface area due to its technical characteristics and PV conversion efficiency. Thus, distributed PV would naturally develop to utilize unused rooftops available for free. Centralized PV power stations are ideal for areas where land utilization rates are low. Globally, however, distributed PV represents the future.
Q: Since its founding in 2012, Hoymiles has focused on distributed PV. How do you think Hoymiles can overcome future challenges and changes?
A: In the last five years, the PV industry has been educating the public on the concept of distributed PV. Today, an increasing number of people are learning about distributed PV, and are more accepting of this concept. In the next five years, I believe that we should be more customer-oriented. First, this is because distributed PV can be used in various scenarios, such as on factories or residential rooftops. In particular, factory rooftops often differ. Therefore, it’s critical to have different solutions for all of these conditions. Second, distributed PV needs to be safe, efficient, easily operated and maintained. This means that we need to continuously upgrade our products to provide clients with the best user experience and the highest power generation capacity. Finally, we need to conduct further research into different markets, providing them with localized services as product experiences and application scenarios vary with countries and regions.
Q: A number of policies on distributed PV product safety have been issued recently, both in China and overseas. How have these policies affected Hoymiles?
A: They have certainly had a positive influence. As distributed PV products continue to be developed, users may face issues with safety and power generation capacity. Many state agencies and industry organizations are aware of these issues, and the regulations and standards they create to address these issues can help the industry develop and gain wider public acceptance. Overall, policies governing distributed PV help boost the development of module-level power electronics and products.
On the Hoymiles Microinverter and Product Technology
Q: Hoymiles is the leading microinverter manufacturer in China. How do you think your strategy of relying on microinverters as your company’s main product would impact Hoymiles’ present and future development?
A: We have always believed that distributed PV represents what the PV industry will be. Thus, we have been committed to developing highly efficient and safe module-level power electronics and products. Our persistence has proven to be correct. Since being founded in 2012, and alongside the rapid development of distributed PV, Hoymiles has grown rapidly and accumulated ten years of experience, giving us a unique advantage. We shall leverage this advantage to improve our leading products and technology, making constant updates to ensure that Hoymiles retains its technological advantage. We hope to become number one in the field of microinverters and create more value for our customers.
Q: Do you feel any competitive pressure in the global microinverter industry?
A: First, constant stress and competition are inevitable because we’ve chosen to establish ourselves in the microinverter industry. I believe there are technical barriers to overcome just to enter the industry. To maintain our lead in the industry, we are also constantly pressured to make further progress and improve upon ourselves. Second, Hoymiles enjoys unique advantages. We are a leading global microinverter supplier, and our industry experience and technical advantages have helped keep pressure to a minimum.
Q: We’ve noticed that there are two paths in the next phase of product and technology development for Hoymiles. The first is to continuously optimize products and achieve breakthroughs in the “three highs and one low” ideal in power electronics. The other path is to refine product categories and create products capable of adapting to the markets and application scenarios in different areas. Could you please provide more details on these two paths, and explain the reasoning behind them?
A: The power electronics product itself has strict requirements for performance and quality. Users’ solar yields depend on electricity generation, meaning that any product issues will lead to lost earnings. Therefore, customers are highly demanding of these products, and their demands can be summarized as “three highs and one low.” Specifically, an ideal product needs to possess high conversion efficiency, high power density, high reliability, and low cost to ensure adequate cost-effectiveness. This “three highs and one low” ideal for creating high-quality products applies not only to microinverters but should be applied to all products produced by Hoymiles and throughout the industry. This is why we aim to become the best in the world at making products following the “three highs and one low” ideal. Only by doing so can we make ourselves competitive, which is our top priority.
The second is to have a keen market insight. As mentioned just, the microinverter is one of the items that are somewhat like an industrial product. Nevertheless, in distributed PV, particularly residential PV, it is somewhat akin to a consumer product, and that is why we should also think about the market needs. That is, people are more concerned about use value and user experience, particularly in terms of residential PV. Then you will find that different countries and regions will have different requirements. Some countries and regions have high labor costs and need simplified installations that take less time to complete, while others have lower labor costs. For the latter ones, we might need to bring down the price of the equipment. Thus, in addition to the product quality and performance mentioned previously, we should refine and categorize the products and launch products that are more suitable for different people in different regions, to make people believe that Hoymiles’ microinverter is the best and most suitable product for them. Only at that time can our competitiveness be fully demonstrated.
Q: What are your thoughts on the present occurrence of numerous PV businesses that start to expand into other areas along the value chain or even step into other sectors?
A: Businesses will make different decisions. Nevertheless, Hoymiles would want to focus on the power electronics sector. On this basis, it may expand its operations to include upstream and downstream products like microinverters and hybrid inverters. We could go from low power, medium power, and high power, and also connect to smart grids made up of many converters. Because inverters change when PV modules change, we have to concentrate on the upstream and downstream sectors, including the iteration and development of solar modules and our downstream applications. This bears out Hoymiles’ long-term commitment to becoming a leading smart energy partner worldwide.
Q: What benefits will come with the new energy storage inverters that Hoymiles introduced this year? Would energy storage become a new source of revenue for Hoymiles?
A: Hoymiles’ primary product is the microinverter, and since the AC-coupling system is a natural add-on to microinverter PV systems that come with energy storage functions, it makes sense for Hoymiles to enter this market. Hoymiles will offer our clients new options with the energy storage inverters because they work well together with microinverters to create a full high-end system. At the same time, we also have energy storage solutions for clients of traditional string inverter systems. So Hoymiles offers a wide range of storage solutions with cutting-edge technology to satisfy market demands. I believe that our energy storage system will be highly competitive in the market.
Q: Will Hoymiles think about launching other products in addition to the microinverter, energy storage, and rapid shutdown device?
A: Definitely. Hoymiles has many development objectives at different times. Hoymiles will take a two-pronged approach in the short term, maintain its microinverters’ core competitiveness, enter markets in different countries, and create products to satisfy local needs. Meanwhile, our energy storage inverters will offer more energy solutions for our customers.
Hoymiles, however, is a business that has always been dedicated to power electronics technology and related products in the medium to long term. In the new energy sector, Hoymiles will undoubtedly advance the development of medium- or medium-large power converters. From a longer-term perspective, in addition to the new energy sector, we’ll explore more sectors like smart grids. We certainly will move on to more sectors.
Q: Given that you have emphasized that Hoymiles is “technology-based,” what do you think the future holds for module-level power electronics? Will it have any noteworthy technological advancements within the next five years? What are the technical challenges facing Hoymiles?
A: I believe that there must be improvements to module-level power electronics, and currently, no bottlenecks are preventing them. I believe that since clients value safety and efficiency in residential PV, module-level power electronics will rise to the top of the electronic sector. And the “three highs and one low” ideal will also be significantly developed. This is why the market is interesting. Market competition for high-quality technology will benefit the growth of the market and Hoymiles as Hoymiles has always been relying on technology to seek development. Since its inception, Hoymiles has dedicated itself to module-level power electronics. After years of development, it has become experienced and technologically capable, which is also a technological advantage.
About the Team and Company Size
Q: Hoymiles now employs over 1,000 people, and all of the core technical team members are experts in their respective fields. How does Hoymiles attract, develop, and produce such exceptional people?
A: I believe that the company’s culture and atmosphere can explain why people choose to join. At the inception of the firm, the Hoymiles team was mostly made up of Zhejiang University graduates who trusted one another and created a family-like company atmosphere. Hoymiles’ team culture is mostly centered on a friendly, open environment where we would often debate and discuss problems. The atmosphere has stayed the same though the business has grown. Everyone at Hoymiles still remembers the original goal at this stage. At Hoymiles, no hierarchies exist; everyone will work in harmony.
On the other hand, I sincerely believe in “letting professional individuals perform professional work.” For instance, our R&D team can attract so many outstanding professionals due to their high-level technical skills. After starting their work with R&D, new hires discover that we can fulfill their basic requirements and assist them in constantly developing their skills. Hence, I believe that in addition to focusing on their paychecks, young people nowadays would like to explore activities they enjoy. At Hoymiles, all people can work happily, and their efforts greatly benefit the company.
Q: What is your ideal team like?
A: I expect Hoymiles team leaders to be willing to address issues and use logic and honesty in their reasoning. As a result, at Hoymiles, we can all openly address an issue, and we follow anyone who has the correct conclusion. Additionally, I anticipate productive and happy work from all employees. Once they finish their work and create value, they have their own lives when returning home. An ideal Hoymiles team should possess these two characteristics.
Q: Hoymiles now has subsidiaries in the United States, Australia, and the Netherlands. Will you continue focusing on localized marketing and set up new R&D centers?
A: Yes, we will. Hoymiles should start out as an internationalized company if it wants to grow into a great one. Hoymiles’ product attributes may explain why the company recorded higher overseas sales. The global market is one of our most significant sectors.
Localization of the service and workforce will be done in addition to the localization of all the products. Hence, I believe that our sales, service, and manufacturing teams should all be localized first. As the firm expands, we will also localize our R&D.
Q: What are the benefits of Hoymiles concentrating on the global market?
A: Looking back, we’ve seized business opportunities in the global market, particularly in Europe and the United States. How products perform, whether they are solar-powered or not, is essential. Good quality, performance, and reliability must all be guaranteed. I remember that we established the R&D team in 2012 and then made our products available in 2016. The early stages were very slow, and I remember several people asking me, “Why is it slow?” In reality, we wish to guarantee the caliber of our products. I believe that good wine needs no bush. Finally, thanks to our high-performance and reliable products, we gained recognition from European and American customers. They like our products, and some even believe that they are on par with mainstream and even more advanced American and European products. As a result, Hoymiles has developed gradually. Regarding Hoymiles’ advantages, I would rank the product as the top advantage and the brand as the second.
Q: Some businesses concentrate on the markets and product design, and they would have other OEMs manufacture the products. Nonetheless, Hoymiles adheres to manufacturing the products on its own. Why?
A: It’s “two engines,” as I would put it. Manufacturing represents quality if R&D represents how cutting-edge Hoymiles’ technology is. To ensure the security of the supply chain, the quality of the products, and outgoing quality control, we manufacture all our products ourselves.
A system of production and R&D details is required for advanced products. By applying different processes to increase automation, for instance, we can guarantee a low failure rate and high product stability. It’s also easier for us to oversee production, scheduling, and sales while satisfying varying customer requirements if we manufacture everything ourselves. The integration of R&D, manufacturing, and sales will help the company grow better than manufacturing alone.
About Development Strategy
Q: What do you think of Hoymiles’ potential for global development?
A: Hoymiles microinverters have gained a global reputation, but we haven’t scaled enough yet. Hoymiles will still focus on microinverters because global clients know us through our microinverters. At the same time, we’ll launch Hoymiles products and continue to research international markets, while focusing more on localization services and offering different services to customers in different places.
Q: You mentioned that “Hoymiles will be a multinational company, and our products and services will go global.” Can you elaborate on your specific actions taken? What strategies will you adopt over a 5-year cycle?
A: Hoymiles’ main plan over the next five years is to continue to focus on new energy, which incorporates two aspects: one is solar-powered with microinverters at the core, and the other is energy storage.
We will develop products to fit different applications over the next five years, and we will require multiple production bases and sales teams. Every region has its own culture and distinctive traits. To satisfy customers’ needs, we must localize products.
The future holds a lot of work for us. This strategy is long-term. Yet, I believe we can accomplish our strategic goal in five years.