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The step across the big pond paid off: Schletter US subsidiary well positioned

The USA is a huge growth market with an enormous technical solar power potential. The Schletter Group has been successfully doing business here since 2008 and will increase its capacities even more.

There is growing ecological awareness in the USA and there has been a really positive development in the United States in the last few years. Barack Obama was the first American president to put protection of the climate and renewable energies officially on the political agenda (State of the Union Address 2014). The realignment towards renewable energies paves the ground for photovoltaics. And this makes sense, because there are extraordinarily good natural preconditions for the use of solar power in the United States. The federal states of Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico have the biggest solar potential.

From Arizona to North Carolina

Schletter took the step over the “big pond” in 2008. Schletter Inc. was set up in Tucson (Arizona) by Schletter staff from Germany. Right from the start, the order situation was so good that the company had to move into a considerably bigger company building. But soon afterwards, this new building also became too small. Only two years later, the US subsidiary of the German Schletter GmbH decided to set up their new headquarters in the State of North Carolina. Thus, the company bought a building with an area of 9,000 square meters in the County of Cleveland, where Schletter manufactures mainly solar mounting systems of the FS series. These mounting systems made the company the market leader in the USA. Back then, an investment sum of 25 million dollars was invested to purchase highly efficient and energy-saving production machinery and systems. Since 2013, the new company building also accommodates the administration, the design department and the technical advice department.

High quality and state-of-the-art fastening systems

At this point, Schletter´s market share of ground-mounted solar plants in the USA is about 10%. Currently, FS Uno is the best-selling mounting system. This system is most popular with American customers. Schletter Inc. also offers roof mounting systems, solar carports and cable management systems as well as workshops. However, ground-mounted solar plants are still the core business.

Change of management and cooperation with leading US power plant builders

In July 2014 Dennis Brice succeeded Martin Hausner as the Managing Director of Schletter Inc. After six years of successful “pioneering work”, Martin Hausner and his family wanted to return to their home town in Upper Bavaria/Germany. The new CEO Dennis Brice is a seasoned and accomplished leader who already worked successfully in several sectors of industry. Dennis was born in the USA and lived in Frankfurt on the Main, Germany with his wife for several years.

In June 2016, the Schletter Group could establish an important strategic partnership to expand their business activities in the US. From now on, Schletter will be cooperating with the construction company “Overland Contracting Inc.” (OCI). Among other things, OCI has specialized in the construction of power plants. The company is part of the Black & Veach group that is a worldwide leading developer of infrastructure projects with a staff of more than 10,000 and an annual turnover of 3 billion dollars.

“The strategic partnership with Overland Contracting Inc. is an important step in the expansion of our business in the USA” explains Tom Graf, the Managing Director of the Schletter Group. “The big experience and the market presence of OCI in the development and construction of solar power plants all over the USA and our high-value and durable solar mounting solutions are a perfect match. Within the framework of our cooperation, we will be able to offer turnkey solar projects. Already now, the USA are an enormously important growth market for us” Graf points out. “We want to play a leading role in the future development of this market.”

Market potential

Photovoltaics are still the driving force of the US solar power market. According to the Environment America Research and Policy Center, the United Stated would be able generate about 100 times more power using solar power plants and solar thermal power stations than the whole country needs per year. It is estimated that about 35 million roof areas are available on which solar systems could be installed. This estimate is based on data by the EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) and estimated values by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The US market is made up of the markets of the 50 federal states, which means that there are very different regional framework conditions and also very different subsidy schemes. The most important governmental funding initiative is the Solar Investment Tax Credit (Solar ITC), a tax refund of 30 percent for new solar plants. At the end of 2015, the US Congress decided to prolong this tax incentive until 2020.

In 2015, California had a market share of 44 percent of the American solar market. In other parts of the US the percentage of renewable is on the rise as well: There will be a considerably growing solar market in Massachusetts, New York and Texas. However, there are big regional differences. California for example has excellent solar resources and comparatively high electricity prices. For this reason, solar power can compete with fossil sources of energy in California. The solar market in California keeps growing quickly and vigorously which is also due to public subsidies.

Attractive solar subsidies are also paid in the north-east of the USA: Solar RECs have lead to an extremely quick growth of the solar industry in this region. The REC system allows operating companies of EE solar plants and electricity providers who generate more than the minimum part prescribed by law to sell this “plus” to other electricity providers in the form of “solar power certificates”. This aspect is relevant because operating companies who cannot meet their quotas are fined.

In the south-east of the USA, electricity prices are rather low and there is hardly any support by the state for solar power. Even though there are considerable solar resources, the solar market is growing rather slowly in this region. There are exceptions like for example Georgia and North Carolina, because there are support programs for solar plants.

The current situation on the solar market in the USA

In the first quarter of 2016, 1,665 megawatts of solar power went on stream. According to information by GTM Research and the solar association SEIA, this is more than the power of nuclear plants, solar plants and gas power plants installed in the first quarter of 2016 combined. By now, there are more than a million solar plants in the United States with a total power of 27.5 Gigawatt. These numbers show the increasing importance of solar power as a source of energy and the strategic importance of the cooperation between Schletter Inc. and Overland Contracting Inc.

Schletter Inc., the experts for big projects

44 states, the District of Columbia as well as four US territories implemented legal standards (Interconnection Standard) in late 2014 regulating the interconnection of solar power systems with the power grid. Thus, these federal states are especially attractive for big solar projects. Schletter Inc. already has gained a foothold on this market in the past. In cooperation with Zachry Industrial, Schletter Inc. realized a 150 MW project called “Mesquite 1”for the company Sempra US Gas & Power (San Diego/California). “Being part of a project of this size is the ultimate in the solar business” says Ed Grover, VP of Business Development at Schletter Inc. “Schletter is proud that we have been chosen as the main supplier”. On the area with a total size of 16 square kilometers about 65 miles west of Phoenix (Arizona), Sempra intends to set up solar plants with a total power of about 700 MW (including Mesquite 2 and Mesquite 3) in the next few years. This might become the biggest solar power plant in the world.

Here you can watch a clip about the Schletter factory in Shelby: www.schletter.us

 

>> Film über das Werk in Shelby

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