Head-to-head with Klaus Kramler: General Manager of Fronius Australia

Fronius Australia General Manager Klaus Kramler.

Fronius Australia General Manager Klaus Kramler.

EcoGeneration’s Melanie Ryan asks new General Manager of Fronius Australia, Klaus Kramler, about the challenges and opportunities ahead for the Australian solar industry and its role in the international solar market.

What’s in store for the international solar industry in 2012?

The solar industry has arrived at a stage where fundamental changes are about to happen. When you think back only one or two years, making money in photovoltaic (PV) solar was relatively easy. There was huge demand, limited capacity, and all that players in the industry had to do was be able to deliver product. I think these times are over, for two reasons:

  • Governments are no longer as able and willing to put money into PV as they were in the past, resulting in less demand, oversupply, and harsher competition.
  • The growing level of professionalism in the industry means that solar has reached a scale at which professional management, processes, and organisations are needed in order to increase efficiency – this is true for manufacturers as well as for wholesalers and installers.

As a consequence of these developments, Fronius expects that a consolidation process will begin that will last for some time.

This is beneficial for solar businesses with a long-term quality orientation, such as Fronius, and customers who demand value for their money.

What is Fronius’ leadership strategy for the rapidly-changing international solar industry?

The most sustainable long-term approach is to compete through a significant and differentiated value proposition. Fronius has always stayed ahead of the curve by creating value through innovation and quality.

With a global reach and subsidiaries in 17 countries around the globe, Fronius International is uniquely diversified, comprising three divisions: battery-charging technologies, welding technologies and of course, solar electronics.

This diversification, coupled with our responsible fiscal policy, means that we are relatively insulated against the challenges of the evolving solar industry, and puts us in a perfect position for when the industry matures and becomes completely independent.

Why did Fronius see Australia as an important market to penetrate?

While the Australian solar industry is still evolving, Fronius sees the long-term market potential for Australia to eventually be within the top four nations worldwide.

At Fronius we have a vision, consisting of a house fitted with a PV rooftop system in conjunction with a Fronius inverter that is feeding in energy to the grid while our smart energy management technology maximises the potential of the system, by directing power to where it is most needed, and capturing excess energy in the long term with our energy cell technology – a hydrogen fuel cell with a built-in electrolyser that could be used to refill an electric vehicle in the garage, for example.

What are your objectives for 2012 in your role as new General Manager of Fronius Australia?

A major objective of mine in 2012 and in the long term is to maximise the potential of the Fronius Australia team so that we effectively support our sales partners, our service partners, installers, and – most importantly – the end customer that is investing in our industry.

By the end of 2012 it is our objective to deliver the best service program within the Australian solar industry. One of my key responsibilities at Fronius International over the last few years has been to develop and shape our service process, the Fronius Service Partner Program, especially in Europe.

Through the Fronius Service Partner Program, we train and certify the best PV installers and A-grade electricians to service our inverters via printed circuit board replacement.

What new products and technologies will Fronius introduce to the international and Australian markets this year?

Fronius will be expanding the successful IG Plus family to include the IG Plus 25V-1, a 2.6 kilowatt (kW) nominal alternating current output inverter for the residential market, as well as the IG Plus 100V-3, which is a three-phase 8 kW inverter featuring advanced grid capabilities, built-in redundancy and high-yield performance through our unique MIX concept technology.

Toward the end of 2012, we will also see the debut of our 100 kW inverter, the Fronius XL 100, which is the first central inverter in its power class that can be completely serviced and replaced in under seven minutes.

In terms of service we currently have a warranty promotion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our solar electronics division. From February 2012, we are offering half price on our 20-year extended warranty for the entire range of our inverters; this is our way of saying that we believe in our products.

Klaus Kramler has worked with Fronius since 2008. Prior to his appointment as General Manager of Fronius Australia, he was responsible for the development of the global Fronius Service Partner Program, a service for solar installers.

Read the extended version of this exclusive interview with Fronius Australia General Manager Klaus Kramler in the upcoming March 2012 edition of the EcoGeneration Premium Digest.

In the full-length interview, Mr Kramler discusses:

  • Analysis of the major shifts recently experienced in the international solar market
  • The latest trends in research and development for solar technology
  • Unique lessons learned from the Australian solar market
  • Predictions for the coming year in Australian and international solar industries.

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