PV inverter ranking: Kaco announces 9.5 GW capacity

Kaco and Siemens are battling it out for third place in the current pv magazine inverter producer ranking, which is based on estimates of sold inverter capacities from IHS industry analysts, and which were presented in the November 2012 edition of pv magazine.

Overall, Kaco sold 1.1 GW of inverters. The analysts estimated the company’s possible production capacity to be 2.625 GW – an amount considerably lower than Kaco announced. It says that via three factories in Neckarsulm, Germany, and one in Ontario, Canada, San Jose, the U.S., and Seoul, Korea, respectively, it can quickly ramp production up to 9.5 GW.

"The factories and machines are available," stated Andreas Schlumberger, head of corporate communications at Kaco. "A high production capacity is important to us, in order to quickly respond to short-term market demand."

In order to increase production, the company must still adjust its workforce and buy the necessary components. "We think carefully about how long it takes to find and incorporate staff, in order to reach the estimated capacity in the short-term," added Schlumberger.

The question of how quickly a producer with available factory space and machines can start production up is one that is rather hard to answer. "That is very subjective. With regards to listed companies, it is easier than those who are not listed, since there is more information available," said Ash Sharma, who is responsible for the solar sector at IHS and also for the inverter rankings in pv magazine. "We do not use the capacities that are given by the companies in our estimations. We must build our conclusions on the basis of the available information."

The specification of capacity figures is not clear per se. Kaco estimates it as follows: Firstly, the experts count the number of workplaces. They then calculate how many inverters can be made with a certain power in a week with these workplaces and, based on this, the annual output. In Q1 and Q2 2011, the company built three new factories – one in Germany and two in North America. It also includes the workplaces of the newly built factories in its capacity specifications. Furthermore, two of Kaco’s factories have been planned with a "reserve area concept". The company also considers external production capacity, so that even more than 9.5 GW of capacity can be reached (over 10 GW). This figure indicates how much inverter power the company can produce, if the market demands.

The analysts from IHS calculate, on the other hand, the inverter capacities the producer can realistically produce under given circumstances in the mentioned year. When a producer increases its capacity in a certain year, as was the case with Kaco, that figure does not apply for the entire year, meaning the analysts come to a lower figure. However, this explains the different estimates of Kaco and IHS only partly.

In last year’s pv magazine inverter ranking, Kaco’s capacity was specified as 10 GW. Then, as was reported in the graphic description, the manufacturer’s instructions were used. How quickly capacity can be ramped when needed is, from the view of the editors, as outsiders, very difficult to assess.

Translated by Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger and Becky Beetz.