40 years of SMA
A pioneering spirit and passion.
For a sustainable future.
Start with a bold vision
Three young electrical engineers in Kassel decide to found an engineering firm together with their former university professor Werner Kleinkauf. Günther Cramer, Peter Drews and Reiner Wettlaufer want to develop computer-based control systems for wind power and PV systems. They are convinced that energy can also be supplied safely and reliably in small, decentralized units. Read more What is revolutionary about their idea is that this supply should be based on wind power, hydropower and solar power. With this vision, the engineers belong to an exotic minority of renewable energy pioneers in the 1980s.
Success on the island of Kythnos
Just one year after founding their company, Günther Cramer, Peter Drews and Reiner Wettlaufer prove that their vision of a decentralized renewable energy supply works. The first wind-diesel hybrid system in Europe featuring a central control unit built by SMA goes into operation on the Greek island of Kythnos.
The first inverter – A niche product
Six years after founding the company, development of SMA’s first photovoltaic product is complete. At first, the PV-WR 1500 transistor inverter is a truly niche product without major market appeal.
Serial production starts
The PV-WR 1500 goes into serial production. It proves to be exactly the right time, as the “1,000 Roofs” program comes into force that same year. Federal and state governments in Germany assume 70% of the total system and installation costs for private PV rooftop systems generating up to 5 kilowatts of power. A system generating 2.2 kilowatts of peak power still costs around DM 60,000.
The SMA founders plan ahead and focus on the system costs to give photovoltaics the prospect of long-term mass appeal. They pool all expertise in this area in the newly established Solar Technology division.
Technology suitable for the masses
SMA introduces newly developed string technology, accelerating the advancement of photovoltaics as a whole. The technology, which is applied for the first time in the Sunny Boy 700, makes it much easier to install PV systems, enabling even electrical installers to assemble the systems safely.
Good prospects for remote areas
SMA introduces the Sunny Island, a system for reliably supplying energy in locations far away from main transmission lines. This is where the founders’ vision of a decentralized, secure and clean global energy supply begins to take shape.
SMA becomes international
The company founders turn their attention to international markets. The first international SMA subsidiary begins operations in the U.S. state of California. Over time, what starts off in a small container becomes one of SMA’s largest and most important subsidiaries.
Promising market launch in the USA
Excellent prospects for the U.S. market launch: SMA is the first inverter manufacturer to obtain UL certification, the all-important seal of approval for use on the U.S. market, for the Sunny Boy.
Clean energy also on the company premises
The first company-owned PV system on the SMA premises is connected to the grid – and is still reliably doing its duty 20 years later. In the years that follow, it is joined by further systems on buildings and in open spaces. In 2020, these systems collectively produce enough clean electricity to cover 42% of SMA’s energy demand.
Efficiency in focus
SMA develops multi-string technology, making highly efficient control of differently developed module threads possible with just one inverter. This is another important milestone toward reducing the cost of photovoltaics.
Central inverter production begins
Small string inverters are followed by large central inverters, and serial production of the Sunny Central begins. The first model has a power output of 100 kW.
Additional solar markets in view
Internationalization remains a key focus, and SMA establishes two new subsidiaries in the Mediterranean, SMA Ibérica and SMA Italia.
First monitoring portal for PV systems
Sunny Portal is the first online monitoring portal for PV systems, and is first launched in Germany. 15 years later, over 700,000 PV systems all over the world are registered in Sunny Portal – the world’s biggest online monitoring portal for PV systems.
Expansion in Europe, Australia and China
SMA strengthens its presence in Europe with subsidiaries in France and Greece. The company also expands into the emerging Australian market and into China.
Germany’s largest IPO
2008 is an important year for the company’s ongoing development. On June 27, SMA achieves the year’s largest IPO. This is followed in the fall by the company’s inclusion in the German technology index, the TecDAX.
A signal in terms of sustainability
The inauguration of the world’s biggest CO2-neutral factory for PV inverters not only allows SMA to satisfy the strongly growing global demand, but also sends a clear signal in terms of sustainability.
Internationalization continues apace with the establishment of subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Benelux, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.
The vision becomes tangible
The new building of the SMA Solar Academy that trains up to 15,000 installers a year is another flagship for sustainable architecture. It features PV systems integrated within the building, a combined heat and power plant that is powered by biogas and battery-storage systems that deliver clean energy in a stand-alone power system around the clock. Read moreIt is further proof from SMA that it is possible to completely supply a building with decentralized and renewable energy, even in a country like Germany that has relatively low levels of sunshine.
Strengthening international presence
SMA continues to consolidate its presence across all continents with subsidiaries in Canada, India and the UK.
Further expansion on three continents
SMA focuses on the potential of African photovoltaic markets with a subsidiary in Cape Town, South Africa. SMA Chile is the first subsidiary in Latin America. The photovoltaic markets in Japan and Thailand also promise rapid growth, which SMA plans to tap into with its own local sales and service companies.
Solar power replaces diesel
The SMA Fuel Save Solution integrates large shares of photovoltaic energy into diesel grids for the first time – and in the years to come this provides the basis for a secure, clean and cost-efficient electricity supply in off-grid regions and on islands around the globe, which were previously completely reliant on dirty, expensive diesel fuel.
A strong partnership
SMA and Danfoss enter into a strategic partnership to enhance their competitiveness. Danfoss becomes SMA’s anchor investor with a shareholding of 20%.
All-round service with high potential
SMA branches out into the business area of operations and maintenance services (O&M services) for PV power plants. In the years that follow, the company ascends to the top flight of world-leading providers and in 2020 looks after systems with a total output of around 4.8 gigawatts.
Sunny regions in focus
SMA Sunbelt Energy GmbH enters the market for solar hybrid applications. Its aim is to establish a clean and reliable electricity supply in off-grid areas in the sunny regions around the equator and thereby replace as much diesel fuel as possible with solar energy. In the years that follow, SMA Sunbelt continues to evolve into one of the leading providers of off-grid, hybrid and grid-connected battery solutions right up to large-scale battery-storage power plants.
Additional presence in Latin America
SMA continues to expand its presence in Latin America with a new sales and service company in Brazil.
New sales and service company in Mexico
SMA continues its expansion in 2017 as well, with the new subsidiary company in Mexico providing customers with direct local support in all segments – from private and commercial systems right through to large-scale PV power plants.
A platform for energy management
SMA launches the ennexOS IoT platform for energy management on the market. ennexOS effectively reduces energy costs across all sectors (power generators, electrical appliances, storage systems, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, e-mobility).Mehr lesen The modular functionality of the platform can be adjusted to the user’s individual requirements at any time. This ranges from monitoring energy flows and automatically optimizing total energy costs to involving households and companies in the energy market of the future.
Focus on digital energy services
SMA establishes subsidiary company coneva to specifically take advantage of the opportunities brought about by digitalization of the energy supply. coneva develops digital energy services for the energy industry, for companies, and for private prosumers and consumers.
More than 1 GW of battery system technology
SMA sells battery inverters with a total power capacity of over 1 gigawatt for the first time, making it a world leading supplier of battery system technology. No other supplier has such long-standing experience and expertise in integrating battery-storage systems into the overall system.
Joint venture in the area of e-mobility
SMA establishes the joint venture elexon together with AixControl GmbH and aixACCT charging solutions GmbH. In doing so, the partners pool their expertise in the field of e-mobility by focusing on charging infrastructure, energy management and renewable energy. Read more elexon is a single-source supplier offering its customers turnkey solutions for the planning, installation and servicing of efficient electric vehicle charging stations, and additionally focuses on industry solutions for charging parks and large fleets. The company’s mission is to promote the expansion of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles throughout Europe.
Successful start into the market for electric vehicle charging solutions
The company successfully branches out into the business area of electric vehicle charging solutions with the SMA EV Charger for optimized charging with as much solar power as possible. Demand far outstrips original expectations.
A firm eye on the future
Overall, SMA inverters with a capacity of over 100 gigawatts are installed around the world – this is equivalent to 80 nuclear power plants. They generate savings of 56 million tons of CO2 a year. For the future, SMA has vowed to transform further into an energy transition company that offers suitable solutions for all relevant areas.
We will never forget that! The exciting times when photovoltaics was still in its infancy. The joy when electricity was solar for the first time. The silence when the diesel generators fell silent. The team spirit. The pride when our development works and can be released into the world. The passion for renewable energy.
Energy transition only works together
By our side for many years – a big thank you to the #PVPioneers.