Nextronex hits significant milestones in first yearWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Nextronex Energy System of Toledo has hit some significant milestones during the startup company’s first full year of making inverter systems for solar installations.
The most significant achievement could be that the company more than doubled its sales in the first eight months and exceeded $1 million in sales in August, said Chairman and CEO W. Bruce Larsen.
Nextronex has no long-term loans or government-backed guarantees but has more than $2 million in preferred investments from its shareholders to date, Larsen said.
“We’re doing it the old-fashioned way with investments from a not too large but very diverse group of private and institutional investors,” he said.
The company recently offered another $1 million stock option to potential investors to continue its pursuit of $70 million in prospects for new business. Larsen said the company has a good chance at landing a sizeable share of those opportunities.
“We’re looking for first movers who are willing to take the risk and try it,” Larsen said.
Nextronex began marketing and producing its exclusive Ray-Max Inverter System, which offers high energy output and lower installation costs for solar energy projects, in 2010.
Larsen said the company is awaiting issuance of two patents pending for an inverter system the company produces. He hopes that President Obama’s policies to accelerate the patent process may get them issued more quickly.
“Customers who have taken a chance on a new company and new inverter concept are now realizing the benefits of the system. … As much as a 14 percent higher energy output than similar arrays in the same geographic regions,” Larsen said.
He said Nextronex developed a “smart” system in which multiple inverters interact in concert to optimize efficiency as the solar plant generates more energy, lowers the cost per watt and extends the life of the core inverters.
The inverters are designed for maximum wattage output generated by each solar array on peak sun days, according to Peter Gerhardiner, vice president of technical sales.
Larsen said customers are getting more energy for their investment. A one megawatt installation produces about 7 percent more energy daily which translates into one full percentage point of return on investment.
“We’re helping to make solar energy more competitive by making it more efficient. We continue to push that technological edge in the inverter business and it’s not an easy technology to produce,” Larsen said.
Nextronex recently moved its headquarters and manufacturing operation to a new facility at the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex at the University of Toledo.
Larsen said the main metal components of the inverter’s frame structure are built in Ohio. The nearly 300 electronic components required for each inverter are stocked and assembled one at a time by two employees.
The firm currently has the capacity to build one inverter a day but can easily scale up based on demand. Larsen said they keep no inventory of inverters in stock and build them as needed for each order or project.
One of its latest projects was providing six inverters for the one-megawatt system for the City of Toledo at the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant. The solar field provides one megawatt of energy to the plant, which typically requires five megawatts for operation.
The inverters convert the solar energy collected by 12,904 77.5-watt thin film solar panels provided by First Solar of Perrysburg. AP Alternatives and Advanced Distributed Generation (ADG) provided equipment, installation and performance testing facilities.
The Collins Park project was the culmination of a $5.2 million public/private partnership and investment to bring clean, alternative energy to the city while reducing energy consumption costs for the plant.
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority provided analysis, structuring and legal support with $1 million in long-term fixed rate bond financing for the project. IPS Energy Ventures provided additional equity financing with construction management for the facility it will own and maintain for the first 10 years of operation.
Kevin Moyer, executive director of energy efficiency and alternative energy for the port authority, said they chose Nextronex inverters due to their efficiency and flexibility.
Nextronex has provided more than six megawatts of inverter systems for projects during the past year, including its first international order for a one-megawatt system in Thailand. It also completed its first rooftop installation on the Toledo Museum of Art with ADG; completed its first industrial brownfield site for Pilkington with Hull & Associates; expanded the original solar site for the 180th Air National Guard at Toledo Express Airport; and participated in the ground-breaking for the five-megawatt Solar Vision project in Celina, Ohio.
Larsen said the company wanted “to establish a footprint in its own backyard” before venturing into other states and countries.
“We’re now poised to move outside the state,” Larsen said. “We are seeking business in states with aggressive alternative energy markets such as California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Florida and New Jersey.”
Larsen was recruited to serve as the company’s CEO after taking early retirement from Owens-Illinois. He served as president of O-I’s $1.4 billion Plastic Products Division with 33 multi-national facilities and offices during his career with the company.