Much of the news regarding U.S. solar markets and solar employment this week was grim but it ended on a high note, courtesy of German inverter manufacturer SMA Solar Technology AG.
While Sungevity filed for bankruptcy after laying off an estimated 400 employees, and pv magazine additionally revealed that REC Solar and Spruce Finance had laid employees off in February (which had not been previously reported in the press), SMA announced that it will hire “many new employees” in the United States as part of a “major hiring push”, mentioning several roles being created to support the company’s sales group.
SMA America plans to hire workers in California and the U.S. Northeast, citing “favorable market conditions”.
“This is an important step at an imperative time in the U.S. solar market,” said SMA CEO Pierre-Pascal Urbon. “Reinvesting in and strengthening the U.S. Sales Group will ensure that we operate strategically, effectively and in the best interest of our partners.”
The action comes as SMA is launching a number of new products in the U.S. market. The company has recently begun shipping its Power+ solution, which bundles module-level power electronics with its Sunny Boy U.S. inverter. Additionally, the company plans to launch its Sunny Boy Storage product to support distributed-battery systems later this year.
For larger systems, SMA plans to begin shipping its Sunny Tripower Core1 shortly, adding that it plans to roll out larger power classes of central inverters to support 1500 volt installations, as well as a power conversion system for grid-scale battery storage.
SMA cites system price declines as one factor for its push in the U.S. market, but also notes that larger market dynamics are changing.
“Homeowners, commercial entities and utility power providers have all recognized the financial and social value of solar power,” states Urbon. “They have also reached a tipping point in recognizing the critical importance of the inverter, which is driving a flight to quality in their purchasing decisions.”
Additionally, the company has appointed Charles Ellis VP of distributed sales and Andrew Mears VP of strategic sales. Ellis has been with SMA for more than a year, and Mears is returning to SMA, where he worked from 2009 to 2013.