Across the renewables sector the words dynamic and innovation are ones that are uttered on a daily basis especially in Australia. SMA Australia managing director Michael Rutt tells Ecogeneration they are a critical business driver.
What does innovation mean to SMA?
In short, innovation to SMA means continued and future success. In such a dynamic environment, like the Australian solar market, SMA sees it as an essential to forge ahead with innovation as a critical business driver. This approach is not limited to innovation in products or solutions, but also in other areas such as engagement in the regulatory process, market strategy and business models in maintaining market share, revenue and profitability.
How do you stay innovative in such a competitive marketplace?
SMA was founded by three university graduates looking to innovate in renewable energy and inverter technology and has continued ever since. Innovation is part of SMA’s DNA! It is not an option but a commitment that all elements of the business look to how we can deliver positive changes to our business. In a competitive market, it is this focus that ensures we respond to market demands, competitor movement and the expectations of our customers.
Market competition should not smother innovation on the contrary it should be the catalyst that drives it.
What did you showcase at All-Energy?
SMA Australia launched two new initiatives in conjunction with some new product offerings. The first was the SMA Residential/Commercial partner program. The second was our new installer training platform, under the SMA Solar Academy Brand in the form of a Mobile Solar Lab.
Both programs are designed to deliver significant benefits to the residential and commercial installer market by way of improved installer partnerships and advanced solutions training.
What are your new products in residential and commercial?
SMA launched its latest development in residential solutions with the release of the New SUNNY TRIPOWER 3.0–6.0. This will be the first SMA inverter to directly integrate module level power electronic communications. Not only does it make adding MLPE to a system lower costs, but commissioning and online monitoring is managed directly through the inverter. For commercial applications, we will showcase two new products, the Data Manager M and the Sunny Highpower Peak1, 75kW commercial string inverter.
The Data Manager, in combination with the new Sunny Portal powered by ennexOS, optimizes communication, monitoring and control of PV systems giving installers and owners complete access and control via the internet. The Sunny Highpower Peak1 combines the advantages of a decentralized system layout with the benefits of centralized inverter designs in order to get the best of both worlds.
Where do you see the market heading in the next five years?
Locally, the current discussion around the National Energy Guarantee has the potential to shape our market over the next five years, especially in the utility sector where ongoing capital investment is critical.
Battery storage will be a significant contributor to the market especially as we see increased supply capacity and greater cost efficiencies. The introduction of effective energy storage solutions to the commercial sector will be an important element of market growth as will utility scale storage solution.
Most significantly though is the digitization of the energy industry. This will provide new opportunities as we move into the foreseeable future to an energy market where supply will be decentralized, renewable, fully digital and interconnected.
What makes the renewables sector so interesting and dynamic?
I have been engaged in the solar industry since 2008. We have seen the boom, bust and resurgence of the residential market. We’ve seen the emergence and steady growth of commercial and industrial rooftop solar and now we are seeing the long anticipated arrival of utility scale.
In between, there has been endless product innovation, change in the political and policy landscape, and a global discussion on what energy generation and supply will look like into the future.
It is the constant of change and innovation that drives the industry dynamic, the opportunities that change presents, and the ability to take advantage of change to drive growth that keeps us in the game.