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In conversation with Luke Lu, Head of APAC Region and Vice President, LONGi Solar, we explore developments in the solar industry space, challenges and opportunities for growth, the company’s marketing strategy and position in the APAC region, domestic manufacturing plans and targets to achieve for the coming fiscal.
Luke Lu, heads the APAC region as Vice President for LONGi Solar. He joined the integrated monocrystalline PV maker two months ago driving the company’s solar module business in APAC, which includes India, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, South East Asia Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands as well as Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan. This is a high growth opportunity region for solar power project development. It is also a challenging region due to high competition and diverse cultures.
But Lu’s aim is clear – to take LONGi to the No. 1 spot across all APAC markets. That is certainly a tall task, but he is confident. Lu shares his perspective on the market and policy changes in APAC with a special focus on India, as well as an update on the company’s key achievements and vision.
What is the solar opportunity size in the APAC region?
Being one of the most abundantly available renewable energy resources in Asia Pacific, solar energy is witnessing tremendous growth across countries in this region. In some countries, it is becoming the mainstream source of energy, due to encouraging government policies and incentives, as well as improving solar project economics. PV equipment cost has already declined significantly in the past few years owing to technological advancements and economies of scale.
How do you plan to leverage your past experience to strengthen LONGi’s position in the APAC market?
I have been working in this industry and market region extensively. As many may know, before joining LONGi, I was with Sungrow for the past five years – most recently as President, Sungrow APAC. Having worked with all the geographies of this region, I have gained significant working and business development experience across different cultures, policy and regulatory regimes, local team building traditions and practices, consumer behavior and more. All these factors are important to drive local teams towards achieving ambitious targets.
How would you describe the opportunities and challenges in the Indian solar market? What has been LONGi’s marketing strategy to address these challenges?
My first trip to India was in the beginning of 2015 when I attended the RE-Invest conference in Delhi. It was a great honor to listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inspiring speech about the renewable target for India. His speech and his vision fully inspired me and made me believe I can do something to contribute to such a great ambition. That was the start of my journey in India. From then to now, the market situation is totally different. The opportunity size is huge and the market landscape has evolved and matured. Developers, EPCs, suppliers, etc. have also changed a lot. Today, the market has become much more competitive and everyone is doing their best to gain market share.
LONGi has its special strength as it owns the full value chain which can bring more value to customers and support them to achieve more together. As a 100 per cent believer in Mono technology, from the company’s very beginning, LONGi devoted itself to the development and promotion of mono-crystalline technology, even when no other companies believed in its advantages.
We have invested significantly in developing and enhancing this technology to an extent that the solar market today believes in our founder’s and top management’s vision. Our target is very simple and clear, that is to be number one in the world and in every major solar market, among which India is definitely one of the most important.
The best part about Indian customers is that they are very fair and they give all equipment makers a fair chance to prove their offerings. In such a fair market, LONGi can contribute a lot. We are already recognized as one of the most reputed brands and well accepted by all customers due to our vision, strength, innovation, high product quality and after-sales service. Most importantly, LONGi cares about its customers, no matter the size and market share.
How would you define the company’s key USP which has helped it get repeat orders and new clients in this market?
LONGi’s innovation and technology, product quality and customer service, our local team and local approach in serving our customers – all these together help us gain customer confidence and support.
What are LONGi’s plans in terms of domestic manufacturing in India?
We are in talks with serious and strong potential partners for local manufacturing. We will definitely try our best to support the Indian Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ mission and contribute more towards creating manufacturing jobs in the Indian economy as well as towards a greener country. We are very keen to make it happen.
What are the company’s targets and plans for the coming fiscal?
Our target is to become the number one player in terms of market share and be recognized as the most reputed PV brand among all customers.