Opinion

“Best in class”: a tale of the global solar energy community and storm umbrellas


03 June 2019 by Edwin Koot, Solarplaza

In light of Solarplaza’s 15-year anniversary, we reached out to some of our frequent collaborators and friends; people that I’m very proud to have known since the early days of this budding industry and that I’ve touched base with through the years.


Edwin Koot, Vishal Shah & Jigar Shah (New Delhi - 2011)


In light of Solarplaza’s 15-year anniversary, we reached out to some of our frequent collaborators and friends; people that I’m very proud to have known since the early days of this blossoming industry and that I’ve touched base with all around the world across the years. People that have helped us, and people that we’ve been glad to help as well. I’ve always felt proud to see them make their high-level contributions on our stage but, equally, enjoy catching up with them over good food and drinks. I have so many fond memories of our meetings. Hanging out in the biergartens of Munich around Intersolar-time, sharing curries in Delhi, a slice of pizza in New York, a good bottle of wine in Milan, the rainy pubs of London. I can’t call favorites and there are so many people I could point out, but here are five special mentions. 


Vishal shah, speaking at the Global Demand Conference III in Hamburg (2009)


Vishal Shah

Vishal is definitely very high up there. We must know each other for about two decades by now! He was one of the first big Wall Street analysts to see the solar industry for what it could be and has reported on it with the keenest and most intelligent insights. We’ve had him take the stage at our events in New York, but also flew him to our home country, to the UK, India, South Africa. Catching up with Vishal always gives me so much food for thought!  

Vishal: “I must have presented in over 20 events hosted by Solarplaza. Edwin and his team have done a great job in expanding the scope of events and customizing content to the changing nature of the solar industry. Solarplaza events are simply great events to network and learn, and they’re very well organized and executed! They’re defined by their team, which is very welcoming and professional. I feel that Solarplaza plays a huge role in bringing together the policymakers, entrepreneurs and industry leaders in new markets.”


Federico Brucciani

I feel very lucky to count Federico among my friends. Throughout the years, from the early boom years of solar in the Mediterranean to the current renaissance of these countries in market parity stage, we’ve kept in close touch. He’s spoken at a lot of our events in Italy (still the country where - just behind NL - we’ve organized most events, 14 in total) and he’s one of my go-to people for an honest update on the state of the market. Moreover, he’s an extremely nice guy!

Federico: “You know, today, Solarplaza is more than just an “event organizer”. It’s a highly competent community-building team of highly skilled individuals, able to create long-lasting relations. What made me fall in love with Solarplaza events way back were the lively, ice-breaking polls that Edwin used to throw in at the beginning of a conference. That’s the thing about Solarplaza events. They always go straight to the point, there are always very competent speakers, tip-top locations and the organization just never fails. One of the things they can be most proud of is their ability to recognize and positively react to market challenges by providing stakeholders with the right insightful content and networking opportunities, thereby really contributing to the shaping of a global solar energy community.“


Jeremy Leggett, speaking at Making Solar Bankable in Amsterdam (2018)


Jeremy Leggett

Where to start on Jeremy? This man has been an inspirational and powerful voice in our industry, having challenged and pushed it since the start. Seeing him deliver his powerful message on stage never gets old and I’m always glad to be able to call on him, which I’ve done so often by now. He’s also been very helpful to me personally in our conversations and calls, providing me with advice and guidance on the global solar market and its movements. I always like to take the opportunity to mention SolarAid, the foundation Jeremy helped establish, which is doing such great work with distributing solar lights in Africa. We’re proud and glad to also support this charity ourselves to directly offset our carbon emissions. 

Jeremy: “I think I’ve spoken at 4 or 5 Solarplaza events? I really appreciate the breadth and quality of their audiences. In three simple words, I’d describe them as “best in class”. I hope they keep up the same level of professionalism and cutting edge content.” 


Sam Wilkinson, speaking at The Solar Future NL in Utrecht (2018)


Sam Wilkinson

Sam! Without coming across as being too sentimental, it feels a bit like we’ve seen - and hopefully helped - Sam “grow up” from a young and eager analyst - just starting out at IHS, towards becoming one of the sharpest analytical minds when it comes to solar, with one of the strongest holistic views on the industry as a whole. It’s been such a pleasure to witness that growth throughout all his contributions to our events over the years. 

Sam: “How many Solarplaza events have I been? I’ve kind of lost count, but I’d guess 10 or so. In fact, my first ever presentation was a Solarplaza event in Belgium around 10 years ago, if I remember correctly. The main reasons for me to attend Solarplaza conferences are the great content, great presenters, good discussions and innovative ideas and topics. These events have allowed me to grow my network and meet so many new people. One thing that will always stay in my mind was the fancy bright orange umbrella that I was given as a gift for taking part in one of your events. It was shaped in a funny way so that you could use it while biking! Despite being British, I am not a man that travels with an umbrella (nor do I bike with an umbrella!). I was stopped at security later that day on my way through the airport for my bag to be searched. I could not think what was in there that would catch their eye, then eventually they pulled the umbrella out of my bag and practically dismantled it before letting me and my new umbrella continue my journey. Sadly, some time later, that same umbrella was left in a pub during a rather rainy weekend away on the British coastline. In any case, umbrellas aside, I believe Solarplaza has been helping us all to better understand the direction our fast-evolving industry is taking and solve some of the challenges.” 


Stefan Müller, speaking at Solar Market Parity EU in Milan (2018)


Stefan Müller

Stefan has won a lot of respect from me. Putting Stefan on stage means getting extremely high-valuable and uncommonly honest insider information on the experiences of one of the biggest developer/EPC/IPP players in the game. Plus a hefty dose of vision and foresight. Currently, he’s one of our best-rated speakers of all time, and rightly so. I foresee great things for Stefan and Enerparc and hope to count on him more in the future. 

Stefan: “I’ve spoken at quite a few Solarplaza events now, but last year’s keynote in Milan (Solar Asset Management Europe 2018) stood out as the most memorable appearance. For me, Solarplaza is defined by a good team, good people, a high level of know-how and solid lineups of reputed speakers. Add to that their modern style, tools and way of presenting things. More importantly, the fact that they listen to their customers, actively asking for feedback. Lastly, there’s the fact they focus on their industry and making their relatively small portfolio of events very valuable.”