SunRoof: A World Run On Sun
Date: July 20th 2020
Author: Alenka Lena Klopčič
“Together with the most daring innovators and experts in solar roofs, we have created SunRoof, a product that combines roof tiles with photovoltaic cells. We are building a world free of carbon energy and inspiring people to face climate change challenges. We are striving towards building an environmentally friendly world of the future. A world run on sun.” This is the brief intro seen when clicking on the webpage of SunRoof, an innovative Swedish company that makes integrated solar panel roofs, run by Lech Kaniuk, one of the most well-known people on the startup scene in Poland and Sweden. Kaniuk was also named by Brief Magazine as one of the 50 most creative people in Polish business and Business Link's prize #BusinessGuru. He sold his first innovation at the age of 18, has commercialised several innovations, and created a high-tech spin off from the University of Technology in Luleå, Sweden. Kaniuk, who has also been the co-creator of the success of almost a dozen brands, gave a short interview for Energetika.NET after this year’s PowerUp! Grand Finale, organised by the InnoEnergy, which, for this purpose, has partnered up with SunRoof. SunRoof currently operates in Scandinavia, Poland and Kenya.Kaniuk was once quoted as saying: “Today in Sweden we have a situation where it is not profitable to build conventional roofs.” Therefore, Energetika.NET asked him about the situation in this regard in other countries. “In most countries energy prices tend to go up, as does energy consumption. The increase in energy consumption is driven today largely by the rapid adoption of electrical vehicles. Many countries are trying to regulate and force buildings to be ‘passive’ so that they use less energy, but in my opinion, this is the wrong way in 2020 and going forward. We should aim for buildings to generate their own electricity, and roofs are absolutely the best part of houses. Solutions such as SunRoof offer both an aesthetic roof and the opportunity to produce huge amounts of energy. Most roofs produce more power than buildings need and can easily charge 1-2 electric vehicles. Additionally, since SunRoof is a building-integrated solution, i.e. replacing some and making other materials obsolete, it is also very cost effective. In most European countries the costs pay for themself within 3-5 years. Thus, using something else, especially a ‘dead’ material, is very short-sighted - especially considering how long-term investments are in real estate, explained Lech Kaniuk.
The greatest potential lies in energy management and distribution
When asked about the greatest potential, Kaniuk replied: “We believe that the greatest potential lies in energy management and distribution. If everyone could sell their excess energy, then the profitability of solar roofs would become even better. This is a very important topic because the energy consumption profile of buildings is completely different from the energy production profile of a solar roof. For example, at midday in summer a roof will produce a lot of energy, whereas during a winter’s night, when people are using heating, lights and charging their cars, there is no sun to power this. Thus, if the excess energy could be sold easily, then every roof could potentially be used to produce power.”
Corona-situation has delivered some top talent
Finally, we could not avoid asking a question about how the corona situation has affected SunRoof’s business. Kaniuk admitted that both good and bad things have come out of the pandemic situation. “Delayed projects and some customers putting their decisions on hold are of course the very bad things. But, at the same time, most big construction companies that were previously hard to connect with, have now become more accessible. It is much easier to schedule a meeting with five to sometimes up to 10 people if everyone can connect from anywhere. We have also started to hold webinars, which is a great way to meet people and talk about the product and potential cooperation. We have also been able to recruit some top talent – people who have been laid off or have seen that their business is no longer the place they want to work.”
Kaniuk recalled that the EU’s Green Deal is a strategy that has come out of the crisis, which, he believes, will in many ways also stimulate the renewable energy market. “I expect that we will be able to grow by 500-700% year-over-year. If the growth is any slower than this, then we will be losing market share,” concluded Kaniuk.
This article is available also in Slovene.