Meaningless metric: SMA Solar’s market share claims

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The PV industry has historically trusted global PV installation figures released by PV inverter market leader, SMA Solar Technologies, due to the fact it had a direct route to a major part of the sector. This was often supported by market research figures or at least an alternative measure to compare different figures produced due to the difficult task in accurately reporting annual global installation levels. Not surprisingly, when SMA claimed its own market share figure for inverter sales the figure was rarely questioned.

PV-Tech has previously highlighted that IMS Research had questioned the authenticity of SMA’s market share position based on the company estimating global installations at a lower level than the market research firms and others own figures.

In doing so the market share for SMA is therefore reported at a higher percentage than independent analysts report.

However, SMA has also contradicted itself for its share of the PV inverter market for 2011, having released full-year results claiming sales of 7.6GW and a market share of “around 33%.” Then in its annual report (Page 31) it claimed a market share of 35%.

It would seem that SMA isn’t exactly sure what its market share actually is but the real problem once again is that market research firms claim global PV installations reached at least 26GW in 2011, but based on SMA’s market share position, installations would have reached around 23GW.

If we take the 26GW figure for last year and calculate SMA’s market share from its 7.6GW in sales – then SMA’s market share fell to approximately 29%. Considering that only a couple of years ago SMA had claimed a 40% plus share – the decline is considerable. Of course if we used global installation figures from research firms claiming higher numbers, then SMA’s share has fallen further.

In a press release announcing full-year results, Pierre-Pascal Urbon, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of SMA said: “The market position of SMA is unique.”

That is something SMA is saying that I can fully agree with!

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