Canadian Solar in IKEA rooftop deal

Canadian Solar has won what it describes as its largest-ever commercial rooftop PV order, with an order to install 3.6MW across seven IKEA stores in Australia.

While the size of the order is relatively modest for a company which shipped 500MW or so during the first quarter of 2014, it is nevertheless important for Canadian Solar as broadens its downstream presence into new market segments and geographies, in response to the slowing utility-scale market in North America.

One of the world’s largest PV manufacturers, Canadian Solar anticipates a stunning 50% of its revenue will come from its downstream “Total Solutions” business this year – compared to 29% last year, and just 11.5% in 2012 – making it by far the most successful China-based manufacturer in terms of its downstream diversification.

Canadian Solar’s downstream design and EPC team has tackled rooftop projects before, having last year completed installed 30MW across 129 buildings in Suzhou, China, as part of that country’s Golden Sun programme.

But the vast majority of the company’s downstream focus to date has been on large ground-mount projects, principally in Ontario, where it maintains its only module plant in North America, the remainder being in China.

At the IKEA sites in Australia, Canadian Solar will employ its new Quartech modules with four busbar technology, micro-inverters and “innovative” rooftop ballast mounting structures.

Sweden’s IKEA is a global leader in renewables among big-box retailers, having acquired significant amounts of wind and PV capacity around the world in recent years.

IKEA’s recent purchase of a 98MW wind farm in Illinois means that it will generate more electricity than it uses in the US, transforming it into a net exporter.