By Jigar Shah, co-founder at Generate Capital
As the solar market continues to reduce cost and expand toward mainstream adoption in the United States, more homeowners are demanding customized solutions that look better than traditional panels. Oliver Koehler and his team at SunTegra have been at the forefront of roof-integrated solar since 2013, anticipating this growing segment within the residential solar market. Today, SunTegra has made the solar roof a reality.
I had the pleasure of working closely with Oliver when he started his journey in the solar industry over 15 years ago, at BP Solar. Back then we were integrating standard glass panels into new Japanese homes. Oliver then moved on to SunPower, where he became a leading product manager and helped bring to market what were at the time the most innovative high-efficiency solar panels. While he developed his technical solar expertise, SunPower’s dominant role in the residential space provided many creative outlets into new home construction—beyond the standard solar panel and into a world of a more integrated look.
When forming SunTegra, Oliver set a key standard: leverage proven solar technologies and roofing principles to create a reliable and affordable solar roof for homeowners. Oliver used proven crystalline cells and standard module materials and designed them into an innovative framing system to provide the residential market with a low-profile offering.
Oliver is a true pioneer for the solar roof. High-profile competitors are nothing new in the solar industry—the bolder the claim the more unlikely the achievement. As the solar industry reaches maturity, solar adopters turn toward loans instead of third-party owners. With this shift, homeowners are taking control, demanding more and finding that they want something beautiful and functional. Oliver envisions the face of residential solar changing to reflect a more consumer-focused renewable energy future.
Oliver and I share the belief that this is just the beginning for solar products beyond the panel. I am looking forward to seeing how Oliver will continue to influence this exciting space in the years to come.