pvXchange looks to international expansion and eyes US market

This week, pvXchange announced that it was looking to the gain a foothold in the U.S. photovoltaic market after securing a round of venture capital funding from WHEB Partners. It also announced the appointment of 33 year old Michael Maximilian Mueller as chief executive officer of the international arm of the exchange, which is to be headquartered in Switzerland.

The Italian market has been targeted for intial expansion by pvXchange, however gaining a foothold in the U.S., while the market is still relatively underdeveloped, is seen as crucial for the photovoltaic trading start-up. "One of the big steps in the internationalization is to move into the U.S. early on," Mueller told pv magazine. "We foresee the U.S. is going to grow significantly in the coming years."

A U.S. subsidiary of the company will be established in city of San Francisco in the coming weeks and Mueller outlined that it was important for pvXchange to make a name for itself in the market early. "It’s very important to be there from the start, because if you don’t take a big share in the U.S. market it’s very difficult to enter it later on." Mueller also notes that it will also be "much more expensive" later on.

pvXchange was founded in 2004 and has been growing at a rate of 100 percent each year: in 2010, it had a transaction volume of over €300 million. Access to this volume of sales data allows the online platform a deep insight into the photovoltaic industry, both internationally and across the various levels of the industry, from manufacturer to installation.

pvXchange Analyst Goekhan Demirci told pv magazine that "given the fact that we’re an independent broker – we have manufacturers from China, Japan, the U.S. and Europe – it’s the closest you can get in the industry to an overview of the market."

Mueller hopes the company will continue on its growth path during this period of international expansion and said to pv magazine that he believed the share of its total transaction volume from the U.S. will take some years to significantly increase. "In terms of supporting the overall growth of the company, the U.S. will take a big part, not this year, not next year but in three years I think."

At present pvXchange has 34 full time staff and 45 commission-based brokers. Co-founder Kai Malkwitz will remain as managing director of the original German business based in Berlin, while co-founder Florian Meyer Delpho (pictured) will move the U.S. to spearhead growth there.