The solar market's consolidation is taking its toll on the PV inverter sector as well. Last week we reported on Satcon's bankruptcy -- but this challenging market is also hitting SMA, the global market leader in PV inverters. The company said in a statement that it anticipates a "severe decline in sales" and might post a loss in 2013, owing to subsidy cuts in solar and the weakness in the EU market. SMA will cut 450 employees and 600 temporary employees from the 5,500-employee firm. SMA had sales of $2.2 billion in 2011.

MJ Shiao of GTM Research notes, "The recent cuts by SMA and Power-One (Nasdaq:PWER) and bankruptcy filing for Satcon are an unfortunate consequence of an increasingly competitive inverter market, where the majority of growth is in large-scale power plants in low cost regions. While absolute installed capacity for the industry is up, selling prices and revenues are down, in part due to a swarm of new entrants willing to cut margins for market share. In the coming months, we expect similar news from other, otherwise bankable, inverter suppliers."

How will distributed electronics startups like microinverter firm Enphase (Nasdaq:ENPH) or optimizer firms SolarEdge and Tigo fare in this growing but increasingly ruthless market?

SMA added Lydia Sommer, previously with Siemens, as its new CFO.


Stem, a VC-funded energy optimization and energy storage firm, named Salim Khan as CEO.  Most recently, Khan was was President and COO of Trilliant, a smart grid firm, and before that, Senior VP and GM of ABB’s Network Management business in the Americas. Former CEO and founder Brian Thompson is now EVP.  Stem is a "cloud-based energy optimization solution that reduces peak electrical usage, lowers electrical bills, and eliminates the need for new generation facilities," according to the company. The 30-employee firm is armed with more than $10 million in VC funding from the Angeleno Group and Greener Capital. Thompson, Stem's founder, said that the company has created a storage system that can save the consumer energy and money without any behavioral changes or compromises for the business. 


RockPort Capital, a VC firm investing in energy, mobility, and sustainability promoted Kevin Kopczynski to Partner. Kopczynski is on the board of RockPort’s solar portfolio company Enki Technologies.


Novatec named Andreas Wittke as CEO. Novatec's Fresnel collector uses parallel rows of flat mirrors and a linear receiver to superheat water above 500°C for power and industrial applications. Last year ABB acquired a 35 percent stake in the Germany-based firm.


Here's a take on green jobs from EPI, the Economic Policy Institute. (Click image to enlarge.)




Here's another take on green jobs from Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute, a former Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. She's the author of Regulating to Disaster: How Green Jobs Policies Are Damaging America's Economy.

Furchtgott-Roth takes issue with the way green jobs are defined. For example, a farmer growing corn for ethanol is a green job, but a farmer growing corn for food is just a farmer. She writes, "Green jobs are the most recent reappearance of a perennial bad idea -- government regulation of certain industries, designed to anoint winners and losers in the marketplace."