Martin is responsible for ensuring each project in GSSG Solar’s Japanese portfolio is designed and built to the highest quality and performance standards available. He evaluates the selection of each EPC partner and supplier while constantly optimizing the layout, structure, and electrical scheme of each design with an eye for long-term investment performance. In addition to standard design tools and optimization software, Martin relies heavily on the relationships and experiences he has built over his 20 years in the solar industry. He started his solar career analyzing the first HIT cells manufactured at Sanyo Solar in Hirakata-City, Japan. Later, he has served as a technical advisor to Intel Capital for photovoltaic investments, built the US PV engineering team for Siemens, and developed E.On’s PV engineering division in San Francisco. Prior to joining GSSG Solar, he oversaw the technical design, negotiation, and implementation of over 240 MW of PV plants in Japan for a leading IPP. He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from FachHochschule Regensburg in Germany. He is fluent in German, Japanese, and his native English and conversational in a handful of other world languages.

1. Until now the solar industry has developed from 600V to 1.000V. Today solar companies are starting to develop 1500V plants. Why is this a trend and how small or big is already this as we speak?

Two years ago, nobody (except First Solar, maybe) was planning 1500V systems in Japan. This year we will see several GW of 1500V PV power plants installed worldwide, so this justifies we call this a trend.

In 2011 I organized a 1500V study group in the US - with manufacturers representatives from every component found in PV systems. The group confirmed my cost savings assumptions. Then, 3-4 years ago the first 1500V product plans appeared in the slides of some suppliers.

With costs of 1500V systems promising to be 3-5% lower in CAPEX, as well as significantly lower in OPEX, I think we will see increased adoption of 1500V systems, going forward.

1. これまでソーラー産業は600Vから1,000Vに発展してきました。最近ではソーラー関連企業は1500Vの発電所を開発しています。どうしてこの様なトレンドがあるのでしょうか?また、これは今現在どの程度進んでいるのでしょうか?

2年前は、おそらくFirst Solar以外に日本で1500Vのシステムを計画していたところはありませんでした。今年は世界中で数GWにのぼる1500Vの発電所が建設されるようですから、これはもうトレンドと言っていいでしょうね。



2.    You’ve been actively promoting 1500V systems in Japan – did you sense resistance to a change in voltage on the DC side?

I started presenting arguments for moving to 1500V systems to investors, management and EPCs, as well as component manufacturers. Within a year I had convinced inverter manufacturers and combiner box manufacturers to certify 1500V product lines for the Japan market. One company even built their whole market entry strategy on 1500V, after I advised them to do so.
 I use my JPV round table - that’s a group I organized – to educate bankers and investors about the perceived risks and how to deal with them.  I created a 1500V user group with an EPC, a module manufacturer, an inverter manufacturer and a combiner box manufacturer, with the target of creating the first 1500V project in Japan.

There was certainly resistance to change, but being the Head of Engineering at a successful developer, it was relatively easy to pull the suppliers along. Some of the projects under development today are by people and companies I influenced.

2.    日本でも積極的に1500Vシステムを推進していらっしゃいますが、DC側の電圧を変えることに抵抗は感じられましたか?




3.   What are the upsides and what are the downsides of having 1500Vdc solar plants, in your opinion?

Well, the main reason to go to 1500V is to reduce cost. Just like going from 600V to 1000V was driven by savings. This is accomplished by reducing CAPEX through reduced labor- , cable- and inverter cost, as well as OPEX, since there are fewer components on the site.

The downside is that some EPCs are waiting for others to implement it first. There may be some installer-training required to overcome initial fears of the new technology.

3.    1500Vシステムの長所と短所はどこだと思いますか?



4.    You are currently, developing solar plants in the Japanese solar market. Is 1.500V taking off in Japan as it is in, for example, the US? (and why?)

I think that those who don’t move to 1500V will eventually be at a financial disadvantage in comparison to their competition and therefore the move to 1500V will be swift. Maybe even faster than the move from 600 to 1000V, here in Japan. Mind you, I am referring to the utility scale solar market, here.
Generally speaking I have seen more resistance in Japan to the adoption of 1500V systems, than I did in the US. Even the Japanese component manufacturers are behind -for example their US- or Chinese counterparts- in this case.

4.    今現在日本市場で太陽光発電所を開発していらっしゃいますが、1500Vは例えばアメリカと同じように日本でも増えて来ているのでしょうか?(またその理由は?)



5.    How does 1.500V impact operations and maintenance of solar plants, compared to 600V or 1.000V?

Because the component count is reduced – fewer combiner boxes, fewer inverters, fewer cable runs, hall sensors, connectors, medium voltage transformers, etc, you will see OPEX benefit from the higher voltage. Safety gear and tools will not go up in price because of this. And whether you operate a plant at 1000V or at 1500V – you will need trained personnel, either way.

5.    600V60や1000Vと比べて、1500Vが太陽光発電所の運営やメンテナンスに与える影響はどうでしょうか?


6.    As with every new trend, some people are in favor of this, other people are more hesitant. You have been advocating 1500V systems in Japan for 2 years now in Japan. What is it the main reason some developers are less hesitant to apply 1.500V?

It’s the risk of the unknown. “FUD” – Fear Uncertainty and Doubt.  Risk – or better: the perceived risk of the New is usually the main reason for slow adoption. That’s where early adopters – the risk takers- can profit.

When I first pushed for 1500V here in Japan in 2014, I got pushback from the EPCs and equity investors as well as my own management. “No new technologies!” was the mantra.

It’s an educational process. I’m used to that.

Now, from what I heard, we’re looking at several hundred MW under development in Japan, as we speak.

6.    新しいトレンドにはつきものですが、賛成する人もいればためらう人もいます。日本で2年間1500Vを推進してこられた立場から、ディベロッパーが1500Vを取り入れるのをためらう理由はなんだと思われますか?