Tennessee-based Signal specializes in engineering, procurement and construction in the renewable energy industry.
Five years ago, wind projects made up most of the company’s portfolio, said Brian Fischer, Signal’s president and CEO.
“Solar has increased over the last three years to more than half of our business,” Fischer said.
That growth hasn’t come to Signal and left other EPC contractors behind, Fischer said. Utility-scale solar is a bigger piece of Signal’s portfolio because it’s a growing industry.
“The market five years ago was principally commercial-scale projects – things like Kohl’s and office buildings,” Fischer said. “And the projects have increasingly grown.”
This 30-megawatt project for Spectrum Nevada is just the middle of the ladder, and possibly even lower than the middle.
“Three years ago, a 10-megawatt project was huge,” Fischer said. “Next year, we expect to we will be building more than one 100-megawatt projects in utility-scale solar.”
The growth was driven by rapid drops in the cost of solar equipment.
“We saw that the industry was poised to grow,” Fischer said. “We did not expect to see the cost efficiency and overall installed cost dropping as much as it has. That has been a big win for consumers and for the industry.”
As the solar industry has grown, Signal has been separating itself from competitors in various ways that have kept its business surging. Signal uses single-axis solar tracking devices, which Fischer said has definitely given the company an edge.
“They produce 20 percent more energy than the equivalent fixed system,” he said. “And the relatively small increase in expenditure is more than offset by the increased generation.”
One of the other things that Fischer said he believes has set Signal up for continued growth is that it doesn’t use subcontractors for the construction phase of its projects. It has its own team do all the installation work.
“Those are the two areas where you can drive the most value,” he said.