Inverter crunch claims new victim

Small German inverter-maker Solutronic has filed for insolvency, in another sign that the crisis among European PV equipment companies is not over.

The company based in Köngen in Germany’s southern state of Baden-Württemberg said the continued market collapse in the PV industry has rendered it unable to meet its financial commitments. 

Solutronic’s announcement shows that the inverter market has become overcrowded in certain key PV markets such as Germany, inverter analyst Cormac Gilligan at IHS says.

“Due to the high concentration of inverter suppliers in Germany, and a rapid decrease in inverter shipments from over 9GW in 2010 to just 4GW in 2013, inverter prices have decreased by over 40% since 2010 as inverter suppliers compete in a shrinking domestic market,” Gilligan said.

Companies have reacted by expanding overseas to growth markets such as the UK, the US or South Africa. But their expansion has been to slow to compensate for the contraction in the German home market, where revenues have plummeted from $2.7bn in 2010 to $0.7bn in 2013, according to IHS.

SMA Solar, the world’s largest supplier of PV inverters, has also been hit by the crisis.

The company had reported a net loss of €16.2m ($22.1m) in the first half of 2013, compared to a €59.4m profit a year earlier.

SMA is trying to develop a strong presence outside Europe to counter the crisis and is also in the process of shedding 700 jobs in Germany.