By Ucilia Wang
National Semiconductor (NSM) has bought Energy Recommerce to add power monitoring and management software to its solar portfolio, Ralf Muenster, director of renewable energy business at National Semi, told Greentech Media Thursday.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based National Semi closed the acquisition only hours earlier, said Muenster, who declined to disclose the purchase price.
The deal makes sense for the long-time chipmaker with a focus on power management. National Semi launched its first product for the solar market earlier this year. The product, branded SolarMagic, is a set of chips designed to squeeze more power out of each solar panel, particularly those whose performance is compromised by shading or dust.
San Francisco-based Energy Recommerce develops software for managing solar energy systems by tracking and analyzing their power output and detecting production problems. Its software also allows customers to do billing and paperwork management.
Collecting these data is important not only for maintaining the health of the system, but also for applying for state rebates.
"We think there is a lot of energy production that can be gained by having power optimization and monitoring and system management," Muenster said. "We thought [Energy Recommerce] has one of the best engineered solutions in the market."
Energy Recommerce has focused on the North American market, particularly California.
Its customers include Chevron Energy (NYSE:CVX), BP Solar (NYSE:BP), REC Solar, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, SunPower (SPWRA) and Borrego Solar. These companies have installed solar energy systems for clients such as Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Macy's (NYSE:M), Safeway (NYSE:SWY) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).
Energy Recommerce is the second solar acquisition for National Semi, which bought Act Solar for an undisclosed amount in spring this year. Act Solar had been developing devices to boost energy harvesting of solar panels.
With the new acquisition, National Semi could bundle its power management chips with the software. The company plans to market the software under the SolarMagic brand, Muenster said. Energy Recommerce's CEO, Peter Rexelius, would now work for National Semi.
National Semi also would like to see its SolarMagic being built into each solar panel in the factory, instead of being connected at the job site.
Such integration would significantly broaden SolarMagic's reach in the market and fend off competition, particularly when a growing number of companies are launching similar power-optimizing products. Competitors include SolarEdge Technologies, Tigo Energy and eIQ Energy (see SolarEdge Lines Up GE As Investor).
National Semi is working with solar panel makers, and could see panels with built-in SolarMagic devices in 2010, Muenster said.
Buying Energy Recommerce will now pit National Semi against other monitoring software developers, such as Fat Spaniel Technologies (see Fat Spaniel Moves Into Power Project Development Biz).