SMA Solar Technology AG Commissions World’s Largest Solar Inverter Factory

July 12, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

SMA Solar Technology AG has announced the opening of its 193,000 square foot solar inverter factory in Kassel, Germany. With the new facility, SMA has increased its production capacity to four gigawatts and is continuing to expand its strategy of scalability to meet demand for its line of solar inverters.

According to the company, in addition to being the world’s largest solar inverter manufacturing site, the plant is also pioneering the concept of C02 neutral industrial production by utilizing a low-energy building concept, high efficiency and renewable energy.

"The inverter – the heart of every photovoltaic system – significantly contributes to an emissions-free energy supply," said Günther Cramer, CEO of SMA Solar Technology AG. "With our CO2 neutral inverter manufacturing, we are showing that advanced industrial production can be accomplished with a small environmental footprint."

"The new manufacturing plant, with a capacity of up to four gigawatts, will allow SMA and its subsidiaries to match industry growth and global demand for its solar inverters," said Jurgen Krehnke, President and General Manager of SMA America. "It also demonstrates that world-class, CO2 neutral industrial production is both possible and economical using today’s existing technologies."

C02 neutral production is achieved through minimizing energy consumption and maximizing operating efficiencies through a low-energy building concept, the optimal use of daylight, innovative heating and cooling systems, and renewable energy. Electrical power is derived from a building-integrated 1.1MW PV system and an onsite biogas plant. The biogas plant satisfies a portion of the factory’s basic heating requirement with additional heat provided by a local waste incineration facility. Excess heat from an electric compressor that provides compressed air for various tools and equipment is also recycled into the ventilation system. All heat sources are connected to a hot water tank, which helps regulate the system and enables continuous usage. Cooling is furnished through two systems, including an absorption refrigerator driven by the excess heat generated by the biogas plant and an electric back-up system.

In order to completely satisfy the site’s energy requirements, renewable energy is purchased from nearby sources. After the final construction phase, the CO2 balance will be equalized through additional PV installations, eliminating the need for additional utility purchases.

As part of the CO2 neutral manufacturing effort, the entire production line was re-engineered to optimize efficiency and can now be quickly extended or reconfigured for other device types, providing the ability to scale production up or down to meet rapidly changing demand.