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Quick fire five with solarcity (NZBN 9429032676327)

solarcity has been providing solar energy to New Zealanders since 1981. They’re in the market of embracing sustainability and fighting the battle against climate change with their range of solar energy products found in Kiwi homes and businesses. solarcity Chief Executive, Andrew Booth explains how their purpose powers everything they do.

solarcity - Gig for Good event

What inspired you to start solarcity?

We are in business for a purpose — to develop technology as fast as possible to stop climate change so the next generation still has a fighting chance for a better future. Through this technology, we are trying to create a legacy for our children and grandchildren by providing a solar energy alternative that is better for the planet. Avoiding dangerous levels of climate change is just about possible but will require unprecedented effort in the next two to three years and that’s what inspires us.

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What are you most proud of in your business?

I’m most proud of the fact that we have installed more solar energy systems on homes and businesses than anyone else in New Zealand. Currently, our installed residential systems could power a town the size of Huntly.

What’s the biggest insight you have for people getting into business?

You have to have tremendous resilience and stand true when others don’t think what you’re trying to do is achievable. You need to sufficiently believe in what you’re doing. And with those challenges, you must keep going.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your business? How did you resolve it?

To make solar energy work in New Zealand, we had to enable battery storage to be economic, and to do that we needed to develop a global partnership with Panasonic.

Adding to that we needed to make sure those battery systems we developed together were economic two years faster than the market was expecting. So there was the technology challenge in working with engineers across Asia and here in New Zealand to find new ways to develop a battery platform in a different way than they were currently on the market.

The financial challenge was in persuading investors to put capital into the business before what we could show the results. Without our product in the marketplace they couldn’t see the benefits so we had to sell our idea and our purpose, a bit like Dragon’s Den.

How do you use technology to save time in your business?

We use Salesforce which enables tasks and documents to be automated rapidly for us which saves a huge amount of time. One of the tech services we offer uses artificial intelligence (AI). It takes customers’ power bills and uses AI to read them and indicate how much money switching to solarcity could save them.

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