Nissan backing big brand and supply chain know-how to crack UK solar

Nissan is backing its big brand presence to crack the UK solar market and expects to complete its first installation in the UK in a matter of weeks.

Last month the car manufacturer announced the launch of Nissan Energy Solar, adding small-scale solar PV to its suite of energy products.

In entering the UK’s solar market Nissan said it wanted to expand on its existing xStorage domestic battery solution, but perhaps the most eye-catching detail of the launch was its price point. Nissan said it would be charging around £3,800 to supply and install a six-panel (~1.5kWp) rooftop solar system, inclusive of VAT, undercutting the similarly-launched IKEA.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal, Francisco Carranza Sierra, managing director for energy services at Nissan, said that price was an important factor in its launch plan, adding that Nissan’s wealth of supply chain experience had made it possible.

“Part of our know-how in Nissan is how can we bring technologies to the mass market, how we can push down different costs, how can we optimise the supply chain... it's part of the value we're bringing to this business is the democratisation of this solar energy.

“We're going to explore how our know-how in supply chains, manufacturing, B2C and commercialising mass market products can help to make it easier for the customer to understand the value of having solar panels on their roofs,” he said.

Carranza Sierra also hinted that Nissan’s brand presence could also help it make early strides, pointing to the lack of big name installation businesses.  

“We discovered many things when we started to explore this industry, and it was a little bit confusing coming from the car business. You discover people don't perceive the technology in the same way, they don't have the same way of changing technologies and we discovered there were not big brands standing behind these offers. 

“You have local installers buying panels from Korea, China or Germany, and the big brands - those who people really expect to stand up and say we're going to help society - there was nobody here,” he said.

Nissan expects its sales processes to start within the next two to three weeks. It will be led primarily by an online portal that allows prospective customers to tailor a solar-and-storage solution that suits their house, utilising a back-end sales solution supplied by Solarcentury.

Solarcentury has already worked on a similar initiative with flatpack furniture giant IKEA, however Carranza Sierra insists there is no conflict of interest in the firm handling both back-ends.

Nissan also expects minimal lead time to installations and has its eyes set on completing its first domestic installation within the next four weeks.

All installations will use Eaton-manufactured inverters which come as standard with the xStorage battery solution however Nissan has tied up separate module partners to reflect the sliding scale of systems it is to offer.

Entry-level panels, used within the £3,800 package, are to be supplied by Hanwha Q Cells and LG is to supply the more efficient, high-end panels. A building integrated-PV solution will also be made available to consumers.

Carranza Sierra said Nissan’s decision to launch a solar product came from its vision to develop a “sustainable ecosystem”, with PV promising to “complete the puzzle”.

“[We want] every house, building, car powered by sustainable energy. We started with the car, then moved to the energy storage solution for homes and buildings, and now it made sense for us to go a step beyond and try to explore solar and home energy management systems,” he said.