SMA in 115MW South Africa win

SMA Solar has won a 115MW follow-on order from Scatec for second round South African PV projects, building on the successes the German inverter maker has accumulated in the booming South African market.

SMA – which last month pledged to build a factory for its Sunny Central inverters in South Africa by the end of the year – will deliver the modules for two Scatec projects in Dreunberg, Eastern Cape, and Linde, Northern Cape, due for commissioning in the first and second half of 2014, respectively.

The order comprises 125 of SMA’s Sunny Central inverters, 65 trasnformer stations, 750 monitors and a power plant controller specially configured for Eskom’s grid requirements.

It follows on a 75MW order for the75MW Kalkbult project in South Africa, which Norway’s Scatec, a leading global solar developer and EPC, is on track to complete by October.

Generating orders in well-paid emerging markets like South Africa is key to the future of SMA, which earlier this week warned that its second-quarter revenues  may fall by more than 40% compared to last year.

Although it remains the world’s leading supplier of PV inverters, with 7.4GW of sales last year, SMA is seen as being too reliant on the stagnating German market, which accounted for 44% of its 2012 revenues – with the rest of the EU accounting for another 25%.

Aside from geographic considerations, competition remains fierce in the inverter space which, unlike the consolidating module space, is actually fragmenting as the market globalises.

In April engineering giant ABB agreed to acquire SMA’s closest rival, the US-based company Power-One.

Only a month prior, SMA concluded its majority acquisition of Chinese inverter maker Zeversolar, in a move seen as risky but with potentially huge consequences.