Image: Viridian Solar.

IChoosr has confirmed its next set of ‘one-round’ solar auctions are to take place on 22 August, and installers have been given more insight into the pre-qualification process. 

Following on from the success of its Solar Together London scheme, which saw almost 4,000 London residents submit their interest in receiving a PV system, iChoosr has already turned its attention to forthcoming auctions.

The next auctions are to be ran for participating counties in the east of the country, and iChoosr expects to finalise details in early June. Installers have until 1 June to enter the pre-qualification process via iChoosr's online portal here. The actual auctions will take place on 22 August with the company intending to run them all simultaneously.

But first, installers interested in securing work under the scheme are being urged to complete the pre-qualification process iChoosr runs to ensure companies are both eligible and well suited to the scheme. 

Speaking to Solar Power Portal Ruud Frijstein, solar project manager at iChoosr, said that it was important that installers and installation businesses considered the demands of the scheme and ensured they were capable of pulling it off before entering.

“You don't want to be in a scheme like this and find yourself in trouble half way through.

“This is a different ball game than the installations many installers are used to doing. It's a huge difference doing 20 installs a month and 200. Your business processes and operations will be completely different,” he said.

The qualification process largely hinges on financial due diligence carried out by iChoosr to determine a business’ financial health, and then a review of the ‘method of approach’ which installers are required to submit. This will detail precisely how they intend to carry out the number of installations required of them within the pre-determined timeframe, including information on the business’ back-end processes and technical partners. 

“To handle volume, your operations should be able to support that from every aspect, from consumer contact, to supply chains, survey procedures, IT… what we try to do is make installers aware of what they need to make this a success. That's one of the first steps, and if they become aware of that some might say it's not their key [skill set],” Frijstein said.

Merit points and effort

Throughout the process members of iChoosr’s team evaluate installers and allocate points based on the application’s merit. Installers have to earn a certain number of points to qualify and, on average, between three and seven qualify for each auction. However Frijstein also suggested that this number is hugely dependent on the market and the size of the auction in question.

And the chances of qualifying for the auctions, Frijstein said, depends entirely on a company’s effort to comply.

“The success rate [of installers] depends upon the effort put into it and where the company is at the moment, because you could have a very solid company but if you don't put effort into the method of approach you won't get access to the auction,” he said.

Solarcentury’s recent win saw households offered solar systems at significantly discounted rates, with average savings of 35% on market prices. The set-up of the scheme is designed to deliver such savings, however iChoosr is quick to stress that these must not come at the expense of the quality of install.

Instead installers are expected to drive savings from the significantly lower cost of sale – there is little sales process required once the auction has been concluded – and efficiencies obtained by completing a large number of installs in a localised area.

The forthcoming auctions are expected to be run for several counties at once, something which Frijstein said has resulted in the likelihood that more than one winner will be selected. To enable this, businesses can pre-select how many installations they are capable of completing within the timeframe – between 500 and 1,000 – to allow iChoosr to select the right number of winners.

Installers will also be mindful to take into account the rate at which interested households go on to actually complete installations. Previous auctions have achieved run rates of around 25%, and iChoosr expects this, in the case of Solar Together London, to deliver around 1,000 accepted offers from consumers.

Once other factors such as unsuitable roofs and missed appointments are taken into account, iChoosr expects between 600 and 700 installs to be realised.

But iChoosr is confident that the successes of the scheme will be felt throughout the market as completed installs spur further interest.

“These schemes aim to accelerate the market, so even those [installers] not involved there should see increases in interest in residential solar due to the contagious effects of solar and us proactively spreading that message,” Frijstein added.