Solaredge charges into storage market, acquiring Kokam

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Israeli inverter manufacturer Solaredge Technologies, Inc. has entered agreement to acquire a majority stake in Kokam Co. Ltd, a South Korean provider of lithium-ion battery cells widely used in energy storage, emergency power supply and electric vehicles.

According to the announcement made by Solaredge, the company will spend $88 million for approximately 75% of Kokam’s shares, with the price including transaction expenses. Close on the acquisition, subject to customary conditions, is expected within weeks. Solaredge says it will seek to acquire the outstanding Kokam shares, which are listed on the South Korean exchange, through open-market purchases. The acquisition would result in Kokam becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Solaredge.

“The acquisition of Kokam will enable us to grow our offering, adding already proven battery storage to our product portfolio,” said Guy Sella, CEO, Chairman and founder of SolarEdge. “Our technological innovation, combined with Kokam’s world-class team and renowned battery storage solutions, will enable seamless integration with our current solutions, taking us a further step toward making solar installations smarter and more beneficial.”

M&A activity hotting up in inverter space

This year, Solaredge acquired uninterrupted power supply provider Gamesa for a reported $11.5 million, to give the inverter maker “substantially all of Gamatronic’s assets,” including its intellectual property and brand. The subject of the acquisition said it would retain a two-year earn provision for 50% and 33% of the net income of Gamatronic in each year, respectively, following the closing of the acquisition. Approximately 100 Gamatronic staff will work for Solaredge under the switch.

Solaredge is not the only inverter company to diversify its technology offering by entering strategic partnerships with companies from related sectors. A month ago, German manufacturer Kostal announced a close partnership with Chinese EV company BYD, citing better integration of inverters and battery storage. As batteries and inverters take on ever more complicated and digitally enabled tasks, streamlined communication interfaces and architectures will be vital to further the process. Such partnerships will result in standardized system components that link inverters and batteries.

Analysts at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables predict an increasing share of integrated solutions will characterize this year’s market. Previously, third-party providers integrated batteries and inverters into storage systems. Now inverter and battery makers are singling out those third parties to come up with new solutions. In addition to hardware coupling, companies are likely to integrate digital energy management solutions. Since these continuously communicate between inverter and batteries, standardized communications protocols and interfaces are vital.