The U.S. housing crisis is the main cause of the global financial crisis. Therefore, the availability of loans for green field installations seems to be limited. However, financing for residential and commercial PV applications is still available.


Pierre-Pascal Urbon | SMA America, Inc.

EarthToys Renewable Energy Article
The U.S. housing crisis is the main cause of the global financial crisis. Therefore, the availability of loans for green field installations seems to be limited. However, financing for residential and commercial PV applications is still available.

EarthToys Interview - The Future of Renewable Energy

Pierre-Pascal Urbon, SMA America, Inc.

1. As an industry leader, how do you expect the renewable energy credits recently passed by the U.S. Congress to affect the American solar market?

The extension of the renewable energy credits is very important for the future development of the U.S. solar market. These extended credits should allow the industry to have not only a higher planning visibility, but also better bankability of PV projects. They also should foster the high growth potential for PV systems in the U.S. (such as high solar radiation, high peak load pricing, increased involvement of utilities, etc.).

2. How has the U.S. housing crisis affected the global solar market?

The U.S. housing crisis is the main cause of the global financial crisis. Therefore, the availability of loans for green field installations seems to be limited. However, financing for residential and commercial PV applications is still available.

3. How will SMA weather the storm from the upheaval in global financial markets?

SMA is rock solid. We have a clean balance sheet without refinancing needs for the coming years. SMA is best positioned for the future because we serve all PV markets and PV applications, have products for all power ranges and support all module technologies. We have a proven track record of adjusting our production capacity to meet the market demand. During the first six months of 2008, we increased our production capacity by 175 percent to 2.5 gigawatts.

4. Where do you see solar energy headed in the next two, five and 10 years? Where do you foresee the strongest growth opportunities?

There is consensus among researchers that solar will experience strong growth within the next 10 to 20 years. In Europe, it is our goal to supply 12 percent of European electricity demand by 2020. This would translate into strong growth rates of approximately 30 to 40 percent per year. We also expect that the residential and commercial markets will play a greater role than the industrial market in achieving this goal.

5. In practical terms, what portion of electricity generation can we expect solar to be able to handle in the future?

According to our research, it’s possible to feed up to 50 gigawatts into the German electricity grid without further investments in the infrastructure (such as overland lines, storage, etc.). This is possible because solar is a decentralized power supply, meaning it generates electricity at the point of use.

6. What are the main factors limiting the growth of solar as a primary energy source?

The solar market still depends on subsidy programs. However, by the time we reach grid parity, we don’t see any growth limitation at all.

7. Micro-inverters have been receiving a lot of buzz in the industry. What's SMA's position on this technology?

The inverter is the heart of every PV system. With new installed capacities of five, 10 or even 15 gigawatts per year, it will become very important to take over grid-control functions as well. Furthermore, it is key to have an inverter in place that is easy to install and service, and it’s SMA’s goal to achieve those objectives with the best possible technology.

8. What news can consumers expect from SMA in the next 12 months?

SMA will introduce up to six innovations to the market each year. Within the next year, we will increase our global presence to better serve our customers.

Pierre-Pascal Urbon

Managing Board Member and Chief Marketing and Sales Officer
SMA Solar Technology AG

When Pierre-Pascal Urbon was originally tasked with negotiating the sale of an institutional stakeholder’s share in the German solar technology giant SMA Solar Technology AG, he had little idea he would soon join the company—let alone spearhead its hugely successful efforts at international expansion. Yet it was a serendipitous move for the executive, who has been able to parlay his global experience in the mergers- and-acquisition market to grow SMA.

Although Urbon is German-born, he learned the international market early, working as an analyst in a prominent management consulting firm in Washington, D.C. His fast- rising career path took him to an investment banking facility in London, then to another in Frankfurt, Germany, where he served as vice president. It was here that he was first introduced to SMA.

The executives at SMA were clearly impressed with Urbon’s prowess and worldview, and asked him to join the company’s supervisory board, which he accepted in 2004. A year and a half later, he was asked to join the management board. When Urbon joined SMA, the company was focused on the German market, but its founder saw opportunities around the world, and Urbon was selected to spearhead the company’s entry into Europe and Asia (currently, there are SMA presences in Australia, China, France, Greece, Italy, Korea and Spain). Today, Urbon is a managing board member, as well as the chief marketing and sales officer for SMA. He is responsible for the sales and marketing activities of all eight SMA subsidiaries worldwide. Urbon is quick to share the credit for his success with his SMA teammates. “It’s an exciting, dynamic place to work,” says Urbon. “We have a fast-growing company with a culture that takes care of its people and rewards innovation. That’s been a tremendous factor in our success.”

About SMA America, Inc.

SMA America, Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of SMA Solar Technology AG, based in Germany. With more than three gigawatts installed, SMA is the world leader in solar inverter technology and manufacturing with divisions in nine countries on four continents. SMA is committed to its leadership role, offering exceptional value with the most efficient and reliable solar inverters in the industry. SMA takes special pride in promoting renewable energy solutions at all levels through education, information and support for the general public and solar installers, as well as for small and large businesses worldwide. For more information, call (916) 625-0870 or visit

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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