SolarEdge has taken another step to expand beyond its core solar inverter business into other grid edge technologies — specifically, the electric vehicle space.
On Monday, the Israel-based company announced plans to acquire a majority stake in SMRE, an Italian EV drivetrain, charging and telemetry technology provider. Under the terms of the deal, SolarEdge will acquire 51 percent of SMRE for $77 million, including about $39 million in cash and the remainder in SolarEdge shares, and then make an offer to purchase the company’s outstanding shares on the Italian AIM stock exchange.
SolarEdge shared few other details about the acquisition in its Monday announcement, beyond noting that it expected a 1- to 3-cent per share reduction in earnings in the first quarter due to the costs of issuing about 1.1 million shares of stock and integrating SMRE’s operations. More details will come during SolarEdge’s fourth-quarter 2018 earnings call.
If completed, it will be the biggest acquisition yet for SolarEdge, in a year that’s seen the global inverter and PV optimization technology vendor make some big buys. It’s also the first aimed specifically at the electric vehicle sector — although not its first foray into EV charging, which began with its launch of a combined solar inverter-EV charging unit last year.
But the acquisition of SMRE is a much bigger step into the EV field. SMRE was founded in 1999 as an industrial automation technology provider. In the past three years the firm has acquired electric powertrain provider IET, launched joint ventures in battery systems and electric go-cart propulsion, and acquired control of Gruppo Sistematica, a software vendor for sectors including transportation, solar energy and smart lighting.
“The acquisition of SMRE is another step in executing our strategy of sustainable growth by addressing an additional fast growing and technologically synergetic market while diversifying into new fields outside the solar arena," said SolarEdge CEO and founder Guy Sella, in a release. “We believe that combining SMRE’s vast experience and full powertrain technology with SolarEdge’s innovative power and battery technology, proven operational excellence and global reach positions us to become a market leader in this important market.”
SolarEdge, which competes against microinverter makers such as Enphase and Huawei in the rooftop and ground-mount solar PV space, has also been making major investments and acquisitions in the energy storage space. In October, it announced plans to spend $88 million to buy a 75 percent stake in Kokam, a South Korean lithium-ion battery with more than 200 megawatts of energy storage systems deployed globally. And in May it announced an $11.5 million acquisition of Gamatronic Electronic Industries Ltd., an uninterruptible power supply systems provider for commercial and industrial businesses around the world.
The Israeli company has also launched a cloud-based virtual power plant management system, one that could turn its fleet of solar optimizers and inverters into nodes of a distributed energy resource control platform. In Vermont, utility Green Mountain Power is tapping SolarEdge’s capabilities to manage a small but growing fleet of smart homes equipped with Tesla Powerwall batteries, grid-controllable water heaters, Nest thermostats, and smart EV chargers. In the Netherlands, utility Eneco is using the company’s platform for its CrowdNett home battery offering, and in Australia, utility AGL picked SolarEdge, along with Tesla and LG, to roll out its long-awaited residential virtual power plant project.
SolarEdge has long partnered with behind-the-meter battery providers such as Tesla, which is a partner in the Vermont and Australia projects. It’s also made some moves into the home energy management market with its monitoring system, as well as innovations like smart water heater modules. At the same time, it’s moving into the utility-scale inverter market, claiming to have more than 200 megawatts of utility-scale power electronics installed.
SolarEdge’s acquisitions are in line with trends across the energy industry, where companies large and small are buying up providers of hardware and software for distributed energy resources like solar PV, energy storage and electric vehicles. This year, British oil giant BP bought U.K. EV charging startup Chargemaster for $170 million. Last year, Engie acquired charging developer EV-Box, Shell bought charging company NewMotion, Enel purchased charging station company eMotorWerks, and EDF invested in vehicle-to-grid startup Nuvve.