How to get the numbers right: An interview with Willem van Schalkwyk

Willem Van Schalkwyk is a solar installer and managing director of My Eco Future, a company that has been in the PV industry for the past 7 years. My Eco Future specializes in designing, installing, and maintaining solar solutions and has done over 100 installations. Willem attended our Solar Power Designer course for Commercial PV systems in September this year to become a co-trainer for the course.

GREEN director Vivian had a chat with him to find get his opinion about the course and why it is essential for an installer to attend.

Thinking back to the beginnings of your own career, at what point in a career should an installer consider attending the Solar Power Designer course?

The right time is when as an installer you start considering moving beyond the small single inverter hybrid installations and want to start enticing commercial entities. Suddenly there is more focus on the real financial benefit of the solution. The solution is installing a solar system to drive down electricity costs. In the residential space, there is not much focus on what the demand is and what the ultimate saving will be. Most people are just looking to save money, whether the system is 90% or 30% efficient plays a minor role, they are not so focused on that. While on the commercial side of things the numbers are obviously bigger so the customer will want a better calculation on what is their return on investment. When you reach a point when the customer asks questions that require a more sophisticated understanding of the yield, specific yield, annual changes, and daily changes,  -that would be the best time to register for the course and gain more knowledge and understanding.

What are the essentials for the upcoming installers to know about solar design?

Understanding the customer’s energy bill is most important. Your solution as an installer should show what components of the customer’s energy cost will be affected and what the benefits should be. When installing larger systems, electronics are more complex and sophisticated. Therefore, the whole solution is more complex.  In the Solar Power Designer course, you learn the different stages of a commercial project from first engagement with the customer, the presentation, proposal, and assistance with calculating the return on investment. Such steps are of great importance and are covered during the course. These stages help to get the customer’s interest and ultimately to get the project going and help to prove the potential value of the solar system.

Why must there be a separate course on commercial PV systems? Why is that special?

This course helps to skill the installer. As the system becomes bigger it is essential for an installer to know your work and know what you are talking about that way you are able to help your client. It also helps to prevent the risk of over-promising and underdelivering. The training is very helpful and a good value for money.

Honest opinion, even though you might be biased as a trainer, what is your personal opinion on the course?

The training is very helpful and great value for money. Based on the feedback from previous courses, the participants made it clear that they enjoyed the course and that the course was valuable. The case studies still need to be worked on and adjusted, to make the analysis and design a bit easier. It is great that we now have Willem as a trainer for exactly this reason and that he’ll bring in all his practical experience and knowledge in the next course.

You can meet Willem and pick his brain on our upcoming course this month.

 Your next chance to learn about PV system design:

Solar Power Designer for Commercial PV systems

18 to 20 November, Johannesburg
Trainer: Marius Geldenhuys and Willem van Schalkwyk
R7,200.00 excl. VAT, 10% discount for GREEN and maxx alumni and SAPVIA members

See Course