Smart Commercial Solar;
Huon Hoogesteger, Smart Commercial Solar; Photo, Michele Mossop

It’s the “golden era” for commercial solar, according to Huon Hoogesteger, founder and managing director of Smart Commercial Solar. 

“It’s possibly the most exciting time to be in this industry. There are a lot of reasons why commercial and industrial are looking for solar, including the bill shock happening over the last few years,” he says. 

“We’re not even tendering anymore; we’re just getting orders. We’ve passed the tipping point.”

Hoogesteger told The Fifth Estate that Smart Commercial Solar has a “very solid growth strategy”, with the company booking more sales in the first month of this year than what had been delivered all of last year. 

Presently employing 24 permanent staff, the company is currently putting on one new employee a month to deal with its rapid growth, including 10 per cent straight from university.

Hoogesteger says the company is currently considering taking on investment in order to achieve its short-term and long-term goals.

“All solar companies in the commercial space are cash constrained – they’re growing faster than profits will grow.”

Hoogesteger is also realistic about the future of the solar photovoltaic industry and recognises the danger of being a “one trick pony”.

“This is the golden era and the golden era isn’t going to last forever,” he says.

“Things are happening but we still have a long way to go and market saturation will happen at some point. That will be a problem if you are a one trick pony.

“Storage will be big. We’re innovative and we’ll find a reason to participate.”

The plan is to “grow within [the company’s] skillsets” and make “no dramatic shift away from energy creation and storage”, Hoogestegersays. 

“Diversifying too much is dangerous, it’s difficult to do well.” 

He is concerned that the solar industry is not maturing fast enough, with a number of his competitors having gone bankrupt due to “low margins and bad payment terms”.

“These guys are not managing money well. They might do solar well… but we should be making a profit, doing good work for our clients, growing businesses, creating a standard of quality as a business and a technology.

“We’ve got to create sustainability in the sustainability business.”

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