SMA Solar Technology AG generates 23% sales growth and positive earnings from January to September 2020 despite coronavirus crisis
Overview of Q1-Q3 2020:

  • Inverters with a total output of 10.7 GW sold (Q1-Q3 2019: 7.5 GW)
  • Sales increased to €774 million (Q1-Q3 2019: €631 million) and EBITDA to €41 million (Q1-Q3 2019: €26 million)
  • Financial stability thanks to solid equity ratio of 43% (December 31, 2019: 38%)
  • Order backlog remains high despite coronavirus crisis at €792 million, with €332 million attributable to product business
  • Managing Board confirms sales and earnings guidance for fiscal year 2020

From January to September 2020, SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA/FWB: S92) sold inverters with a total output of around 10.7 GW (Q1-Q3 2019: 7.5 GW). Sales increased by 23% year on year to €774 million (Q1-Q3 2019: €631 million). In addition to a positive sales development in the Home Solutions and Business Solutions segments, this was particularly attributable to strong project business. From January to September 2020, EBITDA amounted to €41 million, considerably higher than the comparative figure for the previous year (EBITDA margin: 5.4%; Q1-Q3 2019: €26 million, 4.1%). After the decline in the second quarter as forecast, incoming orders slightly recovered again in the third quarter.

With €9 million, SMA generated considerably better net income from January to September 2020 than in the previous year (Q1-Q3 2019: –€11 million). Earnings per share thus amounted to €0.27 (Q1-Q3 2019: –€0.30). With net cash of €194 million (December 31, 2019: €303 million) and an equity ratio of 43% (December 31, 2019: 38%), SMA has a solid balance-sheet structure.

“The effects of the global coronavirus crisis have also posed major challenges to SMA over the past nine months,” said SMA CEO Jürgen Reinert. “I am therefore all the more pleased that, in spite of the declining market, we generated significant growth in sales and earnings and thus gained market share. This was thanks to both our employees’ strong commitment and to continuous close collaboration with our customers and suppliers. We are monitoring the development of the coronavirus crisis very closely so that we can continue to react quickly at all times. As before, the Managing Board expects SMA to achieve its sales and earnings guidance in the current fiscal year. In the long term, we see great potential for SMA in the global restructuring of the economy toward more sustainability and ultimately climate neutrality. Germany should set a good example. The upcoming amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act must therefore be used to speed up the urgently needed installation of photovoltaic capacity. Supporting self-consumption of affordable and clean solar energy by private and commercial users plays a key role here.”

The sales and earnings guidance for the fiscal year 2020, published on February 7, 2020, predicts a sales increase to between €1.0 billion and €1.1 billion and EBITDA between €50 million and €80 million. The Managing Board believes that SMA is well positioned to gain further market share even in the current circumstances.

 

Source: SMA Australia

What were Australian solar buyers wanting in a system in October 2020? The latest SolarQuotes auSSII report reveals all.

Solar System Capacity Selection

After reaching nearly 85% in September, interest (where capacity was specified) in 6kW or larger solar systems  sat at close to 84% in October – the first time we’ve seen the upward trend for this size range halted for quite some time. Interest in 6kW+ compared to 6kW was significantly higher in October: +12%. It was only a few months back when 6kW ruled the roost, but as we’ve previously mentioned both these options would be capturing interest for the “sweet-spot” choice of 6.6kW. That muddies the waters a little and is something we’ll address on the quoting form.

Solar system sizing selection in October 2020

PV Purchasing Timeframe

Australians were really eager to get solar panels installed on their rooftops sooner rather than later. Interest in purchasing a system immediately rose to 24% in October (September: 23%, August: 20%, July: 22%). The proportion of those using the SolarQuotes service considering a solar power system purchase any time from immediately to within three months also rose – 98% compared to 97% in September, August and July.

Solar system purchase intent  in October 2020

System Price Vs. Quality

As in September, approximately 12% of prospective buyers were wanting pricing on a “top quality” (most expensive) system in October. 80% were interested in a solar power package offering a good balance of quality and cost, while 8% were focused on a good quality budget system.

Advanced Solar Monitoring

Interest in advanced monitoring continued to fall in October, down to 47% compared to 49% in September, 63% in August and 69% in July. Learn more about the advantages of advanced solar monitoring.

Microinverter Option

A microinverter is a miniaturised inverter installed with each solar panel, taking the place of a single conventional string solar inverter usually used in a full system. The use of microinverters adds to the cost of a system, but the devices offer a number of advantages over a single string inverter setup.

In October, close to 13% of those using the SQ service expressed an interest in microinverters, compared to 14% in September, August and July.

“Battery-Ready” Option

Interest in battery-ready systems popped up a bit in October, at ~6% compared to ~5% in September. A home battery can be added to just about any existing PV system post-installation, but specifying storage may be wanted down the track can assist with system design.

Battery-ready PV interest in October 2020

Solar + Battery Installation

As in September, interest in installing a battery system at the same time as solar panels sat at a little under 13% in October. If you’re contemplating having a battery installed with your solar panels, crunch the numbers using SQ’s solar and battery calculator, which will detail how savings are impacted by energy storage and solar panels separately.

Battery Storage Capacity

Where a battery capacity preference was noted, here’s what Australians were interested in during October:

1 – 5 kWh: 17% (September ~14%, August 14%, July: 15%)
5 – 10 kWh: 49% (September ~51%, August 50%, July: 50%)
10 kWh +:  34% (September ~35%, August 35%, July: 34%)

61% of those interested in buying batteries were seeking advice on system sizing, a significant jump from September’s 55%.

Home battery capacity selection - October 2020

Intended Primary Battery Use

5% noted the primary application for a battery would be for backup purposes, within the usual range we see. 45% said it would be primarily used for minimising mains grid electricity consumption, up on September’s 40%. 50% expressed a desire to use a battery for both purposes (53% in September).

Primary battery application - October 2020

Electricity Bills Pre-Solar

Again in October, around 50% of Australians requesting quotes for solar who knew what they paying for electricity noted bills of between $500 and $1,000 a quarter – this figure has remained fairly static in recent months. The proportion of Australians paying more than $1,000 a quarter sat at little over 12%, not much change from September when the figure was just shy of 13%.

Quarterly electricity costs before solar panels - October 2020

 

Source: Solar Quotes

Report: auSSII

Results from June indicate PV systems larger than 6kW are continuing to be increasingly popular among Australia’s prospective home solar buyers.

As part of the state’s economic recovery plan, the Palaszczuk Government has committed $145 million for Renewable Energy Zones in the north, central and south-west Queensland.

The plan released by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Thursday has identified renewable energy investment as one of the main drivers of post-pandemic recovery with $145 million allocated for three new Renewable Energy Zones (REZs). As part of a nearly $200 million funding package that underpins the joint focus on protecting the health and economic growth, the government has committed to supporting new transmission infrastructure across North, Central and south-west Queensland that will guide future solar and wind investment in the state.

The recovery plan has been developed after extensive consultation with industry stakeholders and regional communities to identify priorities as Queensland rebuilds and strengthens with a focus on its regional economies and jobs of the future. “Queensland’s regions have told us they see energy as a key part of diversifying their economies and attracting new industry. Energy means jobs,” Palaszczuk said.

“We commit $145 million for the creation of three Queensland Renewable Energy Zones located in southern, central and northern Queensland,” the Premier said. “With the right support from governments, these zones will help connect new renewable energy to our power network, and attract industries wanting new energy to a series of connected commercial and industrial power hubs across the state.”

One such region is the industrial center of Gladstone located adjacent to the Fitzroy REZ in Central Queensland. With the government funding announcement and previously unveiled plans for a 2 GW wind, solar, storage and transmission project dubbed Central Queensland Power (CQP), Gladstone will be able to accelerate the energy transition of its heavy industry and stimulate the development of new industries such as green hydrogen.

“Today’s announcement confirms it is a project which is aligned with the State Government’s vision for supporting heavy industry and manufacturing jobs with clean energy,” Simon Currie, Director of Energy Estate, a CQP joint venture partner together with RES, said. “We are actively developing these renewable energy projects, with the support of, and engagement with, the Queensland Government, Gladstone City Council and large industrial operations in Gladstone.”

REZ’s benefits for Queensland’s energy transition

Across the state, the economic opportunity presented by solar and wind resources is immense. However, today renewable energy accounts for just 14% of the state’s electricity mix – the lowest in Australia and still far short of its 50% RE target by 2030. While Queensland boasts the biggest pipeline of utility-scale PV, wind and storage projects among Australian states and territories, the projects are often held back by grid bottlenecks and exposed to the risk of radical curtailment, including 1 GW of solar projects in the north of the state, for reasons such as network capacity and system strength.

“Grid congestion is the biggest underlying challenge facing new investment in large-scale renewable energy in Queensland,” Clean Energy Council Chief (CEC) Executive, Kane Thornton, said on Thursday welcoming the REZs announcement. “Accelerating construction and expansion of the transmission network will unlock new private sector investment in large-scale renewable energy.”

Queensland’s REZs will not only provide the much-needed, carefully-planned, additional electricity transmission infrastructure in designated areas but also streamline the development of new renewable energy projects, support for the deployment of new energy storage and work to attract new industries to these zones.

The first Australian state to act on the concentrated benefits of REZs as outlined in AEMO’s Integrated System Plan was New South Wales (NSW). Over the past year, NSW announced the development of two REZs that have been attracting high levels of investor interest. The state now enjoys the highest level of investor confidence in the country, according to the CEC’s latest CEO Investor Confidence Index, successfully rebranding itself from Australia’s energy transition laggard to leader.

As recently seen, the government’s plan to deliver a 3 GW renewable energy zone in the state’s Central-West was met with overwhelming investor response, attracting 113 registrations of interest totalling 27 GW valued at $38 billion. Queensland will now be looking to follow in its neighbour’s footsteps.

Potential and goals

“Queensland has among the best renewable energy resources in Australia and stand-out potential to become a clean energy superpower leveraging its low-cost renewable electricity, strong skills base and trade links with southern states and Asia,” says Thornton.

Since 2017, when the Palaszczuk Government set a target of 50% renewable energy by 2030, over $3.2 billion has been invested in new large-scale clean energy projects in regional and rural Queensland communities, with approximately 4000 large-scale construction jobs created at peak. Around a further 4000 people are employed in rooftop solar installation and the supporting supply chain, including equipment supplies, logistics, sales, marketing and administration.

To meet its 50% RE target, Queensland will need around 5500 MW of large-scale renewable energy generation between now and 2030, which could attract almost $10 billion of private investment and create more than 10,000 jobs, the CEC calculates. Investors stand at the ready, with around 17,000 MW of new large-scale renewable energy projects with secured planning approvals.

“However, while the state has made significant strides during the past four years in raising the level of clean energy generation off a low-base, investment in Queensland is stagnating,” Thorton warns. “This is in large part due to inadequate transmission capacity, the many complex hurdles for connecting new generators and increasing constraints being placed on many operating solar and wind farms. The lack of long-term federal energy policy has also played a material role in this slow down.”

According to the CEC data, only three large-scale projects were financially committed in the 18 months between January 2019 and June 2020. This compares with eight projects being financially committed during the 2018 calendar year and 19 projects in the 2017 calendar year. That is why the development of Queensland’s REZs is much needed at this point to give impetus to the Sunshine State’s renewable energy sector.

Another chance for Queensland to develop policies that will deliver its targets of 50% renewable energy by 2030 or net zero emissions by 2050 is the upcoming state elections, scheduled for October 31. As Queenslanders ready to head to the polls, the CEC has recently issued policy recommendations for all parties that would build up investor confidence and turn Queensland into a low-cost, clean energy superpower.

Source: PV Magazine Australia
Image: Annastacia Palaszczuk, Twitter

Results from June indicate PV systems larger than 6kW are continuing to be increasingly popular among Australia’s prospective home solar buyers.

Solar Power System Sizing

In June, nearly 83% of Australian solar shoppers using the SolarQuotes service who had a system size already in mind wanted a 6kW solar system or larger, up slightly on May. Of those, just shy of 51% wanted a 6kW system and the rest, even bigger – so it may not be long before we see 6kW+ consistently trumping 6kW in requests. As for 5kW PV systems, just 12% wanted this capacity – in June last year the proportion was 16% and in June 2018, 37%.

Solar power system size choice during June 2020

Time Frame For Solar Purchase

Interest in buying a system immediately picked up in June – 25% compared to 22% in May and 23% in April. Again in June, 98% of Australians requesting quotes were considering a purchase any time from immediately to within 3 months.

Solar purchasing intent during June 2020

Price Vs Quality Selections

The proportion of solar buyers wanting a “top quality” (most expensive) system was just over 12% in June – same as in May – while 79% were after a PV package offering a balance between quality and cost, and 9% a good quality budget system.

Solar power system pricing and quality - June 2020

Advanced Solar Monitoring Option

Interest in optional advanced solar monitoring remained high in June -70%; same as in May and up from 67% in April.

Advanced Solar Consumption Monitoring interest during June 2020

Microinverter Option

Microinverter interest was again 14% in June. A microinverter is a miniature inverter that operates with a single panel instead of the more common arrangement of a single string inverter being used with multiple solar panels.

Microinverter interest during June 2020

Battery Ready Solar Systems

There was a significant drop in battery ready solar system interest in June – down to 8% from May’s 11% and April’s 12%. While all solar power systems can have batteries fitted, for some it’s easier than others and we ask this question on the quoting form to assist installation companies with system design.

Battery-ready system interest during June 2020

Solar And Battery Installation

Just under 9% expressed interest in a concurrent battery installation along with their solar panels in June, compared to 7% in May. This result when considered with the “battery ready” figures above indicate Australia’s solar battery storage revolution is still to really kick into gear among new system purchasers.

Concurrent solar + battery install - June 2020

Battery Sizing

For those who were considering a concurrent battery installation and had a size (capacity) in mind, 11% wanting pricing and details on 1-5kWh energy storage system, 54% for 5-10kWh and 32% for 10kWh+. More than half of all potential battery purchasers indicated they needed advice on selecting energy storage capacity.

Battery capacity - June 2020

Primary Battery Application

5% wanted a battery primarily for backup (6% May and 3% in April), while 37% were wanting a battery mainly for minimising grid use (35% in May, 36% in April) and 57% for both applications (59% in May and 61% in April).

Primary battery use indicated - June 2020

Quarterly Power Bills

Where power bill costs were indicated, 48% stated their quarterly electricity bills were between $500 and $1,000 on average, same as May.  Just under 10% were paying $1,000 or more – down on May’s 11% and April and March’s 12%.

Quarterly electricity bills - June 2020

 

Source: Solar Quotes
REPORT: auSSII