Mixed outlook for PV inverter market

06. July 2011 | Top News, Products, Markets & Trends, Industry & Suppliers | By:  Becky Stuart

Due to oversupply in the photovoltaic market in 2010, the global inverter market is expected to decline by over 10 percent, to below $6 billion this year. The long-term outlook is, however, positive.

Inverters being installed photovoltaic installation US

The long term prospects for photovoltaic inverters are positive. Image: Flickr/Velo Steve.

IMS Research's "The World Market for PV Inverters" report has found that inverter shipments will decrease by around five percent in 2011, due to the oversupply seen at the end of 2010.

This is despite the fact that photovoltaic installations are expected to grow by 16 percent this year.

Ash Sharma, IMS’ senior research director for PV adds that both like-for-like and average prices will fall, thus negatively impacting on industry revenues.

He says that like-for-like prices have already declined by between 10 to 15 percent, having been faced with "intense" pricing pressure in the first half of 2011. Overall, however, IMS believes that prices will only fall by eight percent this year.

"Some major suppliers have made even steeper cuts particularly in emerging markets to buy market share," says Sharma. "However, product mix change caused by new markets gaining share, introductions of new models, such as those with reactive power capability, and shifts in some segments to smaller inverters will help maintain average prices."

Significantly higher

Despite the fact shipments and prices are expected to fall from 2010 to 2011, the photovoltaic inverter market outlook is still bright. For instance, 2011 revenues are projected to be "significantly higher" than in 2009, and shipments should exceed 20 gigawatts (GW). Overall, 20 GW were shipped in 2010.

Furthermore, there are "major growth opportunities" present for certain inverter suppliers. Sharma explains: "Despite a major slowdown in some European markets in 2011, we predict robust growth in many Asian countries as well as the USA, which will benefit some suppliers more than others."

He adds that large inverters used in megawatt-scale solar projects can look forward to "excellent growth", as can small 3-phase string inverters.

"Small 3-phase string inverters grew by a massive 560 percent in 2010 driven by high demand in commercial systems due to their ease of installations and scalability. Their penetration is forecast to increase further in almost every geographic market," continues Sharma.

This news confirms the research company's view, released back in April, that this year will place both hurdles and opportunities in the way of inverter suppliers. For example, it said that there will be excess inventory, due to oversupply, and a heavier focus will be placed on the Asian and North American markets.

Overall, the global inverter market looks positive going forward, with forecasts that revenues will surpass $10 billion by 2015.

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