This is the first part of my three-part interview with Andrew McCalla, founder and president of Austin, Texas-based Meridian Solar. In this part McCalla talks about Meridian's history, mission and what's changed in the industry since 1995.
ROBERT GLUCK: What is your background and why did you start Meridian Solar?
ANDREW MCCALLA: How far back do you want to go? Professionally, I’ve never had another career. I had some odd jobs in college, but pretty much thereafter I entered the solar industry. After several years with a PV distributor, I saw the regional need for a turn-key (Design, Supply, & Installation) company. On that inspiration, I started Meridian.
RG: What is the mission of Meridian Solar?
AM: To further the adoption of photovoltaic technology through high quality system design and installation.
RG: You have been a professional in the solar industry since 1995 when you joined SWPV, a photovoltaic distribution company, to head its international sales and design efforts. After 4 years, you founded what was then Meridian Energy Systems to fill the regional need for high-quality renewable energy system design and installation.
One of two inaugural NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners)-qualified installers in Texas, you served on the board of the Texas Solar Energy Society, and currently serve on the board of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association. What's changed in the industry since 1995?
AM: The manner in, and scale at, which the technology is implemented. Regarding the former, grid-tied solar technology was really in its infancy in 1995, so most all systems were battery-based. Now, with grid-tie inverter technology having progressed so significantly, systems are being implemented far more efficiently (fiscally and physically).
Regarding the latter, scale, both the scale of the product (solar modules) and the scale of the installations, has changed exponentially. I remember when an 80 watt module was huge, and an 8 kW installation significant. Now, modules are consistently three times that size and installations, well, significant industrial endeavors.
RG: Why serve on the board of these societies and associations? How does that help you, Meridian and the solar industry?
It helps all three by staying involved and continuing to formulate the issues (social, economic, political, regulatory) surrounding this still nascent (on some levels) technology.
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