Jacko D’Agnolo is COO at Solarus, an innovative company in the sustainable energy sector. The company is working on a new generation of solar panels, hoping to take the world by storm. Espousing their motto “the new power to fuel our future”, they boldly claim: “The solar power of the future will come from Venlo.”
What does Solarus do?
“Solarus produces the hybrid PowerCollector. This is an innovative, patented solar panel that has the highest energy output ever measured: it generates three times more energy than conventional solar panels. This high level of efficiency makes it possible for Solarus’ solar solution to replace more fossil fuels and lower CO2 emissions.”
Why choose PowerCollector?
“The PowerCollector is the best choice for sustainable energy in processes that need both heat and electricity. This is because the panel directly absorbs the heat from the sun and, on top of that, also provides electricity. Currently, Solarus focuses on the hospitality sector and the food industry in the Netherlands, India, South Africa, and soon also South America.”
Solarus won an Accenture Innovation Award in 2017. Looking back, how has the award benefited you?
“We received a lot of media attention after winning the award, which of course gave us some fame and publicity. The award is a worldwide confirmation that our product is a valuable addition to the energy transition. The Accenture Innovation Awards (AIA) have opened new doors to investors, new partners, and potentially big clients.”
What has been the most valuable consequence of your participation in the AIA?
“The AIA have encouraged well-known investors to invest in our company. Our participation has also undoubtedly boosted our two successful crowdfunding projects. The invested capital allowed us to further automate our production facilities and enabled us to scale up and expand our footprint. In short: it has allowed us to jump from start-up to scale-up.”
What advice would you give participants in the AIA18?
“Be proud of your innovation and use the AIA to broaden your network.”
What is Solarus’ background?
“Solarus is a spin-off of the Swedish Vattenfall, which started researching technology for thermal solar panels in 1998. Eventually Vattenfall changed their course, and the university in Gävle decided to continue the research and development. This is how Solarus came to be. Solarus established in the Netherlands in 2014; we continued developing the PowerCollector and introduced it to the market.”
What challenges do you face today?
“The market for solar heat is relatively new and the PowerCollector is a new product. This means it takes time and money to become a well-known brand.”
Could you elaborate?
“In many countries the energy price is very low because, for example, pollution costs aren’t accounted for. This makes the payback period for PowerCollector installations too long. As such, we are currently trying to lower the cost price to make the product interesting for multiple markets and taken on an advantageous position over our competitors.”
What trends do you expect in the market for Solarus in the coming years?
“The energy transition discussion will shift from generating sustainable energy to the storage of sustainable energy. To capitalize on this, we will soon be starting a project in Groningen that stores heat that is generated in summer, and can then be used in winter.”
What is your golden advice for entrepreneurs?
“If you are convinced of your product, idea or service, you will be able to convince others.”