Solar panel companies have long partnered with other component manufacturers to offer customers more inclusive systems. This is more prevalent with electronics — think AC panels or smart modules with embedded microinverters or optimizers. But some companies are finding success in bundling together even more aspects of the system, including mounting and batteries.
Trina Solar is morphing itself from just a product manufacturer into a service provider. The company announced in March 2018 a new utility-scale packaged system with its solar panels. After its strategic cooperation agreement and eventual acquisition of Spanish tracking and mounting manufacturer Nclave, Trina had the upper-hand for smart PV solutions in the utility-scale market. The company’s offering, TrinaPro, also includes Trina-branded Sungrow string and central inverters and a sophisticated cloud-based data algorithm to assist with O&M and general system efficiency. TrinaPro can also be deployed in the commercial market on roofs and in floating system setups.
“Trina has long been acknowledged as an industry-leading PV module provider. Now, we have made the decision to transition into becoming a smart energy solutions provider,” said Steven Zhu, Trina Solar’s North American president. “This is a business decision that we made for our long-term sustainability as a company, to expand our participation in the market and to provide additional value to our customers.”
Not only does the TrinaPro package provide better profit margins for Trina than just solar panels, it also gives extended benefits to customers by reducing eight main risks associated with solar development: design, procurement, purchasing, scheduling, integration, installation, commissioning and bankability. Zhu said Trina doesn’t want to replace the EPC on a project; instead the company wants to make the EPC’s job easier.
A choice of any Trina Solar panel is included in the TrinaPro package, and the company has said its bifacial modules bundled with trackers are a popular choice. While Trina went with Sungrow inverters (and Huawei inverters outside of the United States) for TrinaPro, Zhu said bringing the mounting systems in-house was a strategic manufacturing decision.
“Solar tracking is a sector that has seen aggressive growth over the last couple of years and Trina saw an opportunity to enter the space with this acquisition. Manufacturing has always been a core competency for us, and having the tracking production in-house enables us to reduce procurement and delivery risks for our customers,” Zhu said.
Trina’s position is to supply one solution — with one technical support and customer service team — to help clients reach higher ROIs. The company is still focusing R&D on better solar panels, but now it’s looking at the larger picture.
“TrinaPro provides the primary benefit of dealing with one supplier for the top three components of a utility-scale PV system: modules, trackers and inverters,” Zhu said. “Trina will ensure that the components are optimized to operate together seamlessly, and we can guarantee delivery and availability at the time of purchase.”