PV inverter market strong, but new challenges are emerging

According to IMS Research’s latest report on the market, core photovoltaic markets saw "explosive" growth last year, which allowed European inverter suppliers to gain a strong foothold. Of particular note, says the company, Power-One moved to second place in the global rankings, having gained the most market share last year.

It adds that the top five suppliers, which gained the most market share in 2010, were Power-One, Siemens, Advanced Energy, Sungrow and Danfoss.

The recently released rankings have revealed, however, that some suppliers performed significantly better than others. "During 2010, exceptional demand meant that component shortages blighted the industry and lead-times for many suppliers extended up to 30 weeks. Suppliers that were able to source components benefitted with Power-One being a prime example," PV market analyst Tom Haddon commented.

Several different reasons were identified for the successes seen. For example, IMS states that suppliers like Danfoss Solar Inverters, Refu Elektronik and Siemens all gained "considerable" market share due to the growth in the small three-phase inverter market for units rated between 10 and 20 kilowatts.

Future growth

The research company predicts that the North American market will experience high growth in 2011. This, it says, could benefit domestic suppliers like Satcon and Advanced Energy. They were found to be the highest ranked non-European supplier and biggest ranking gainer respectively in 2010.

Meanwhile, Advanced Energy was the third largest market share gainer last year. Its achievement was attributed to its earlier acquisition of PV Powered.

In terms of the general inverter landscape, IMS believes that this year will place both hurdles and opportunities in the way of suppliers. For example, it states that there will be excess inventory, due to oversupply last year, and a heavier focus will be placed on the Asian and North American markets.

Haddon concluded: "During 2010, the photovoltaic inverter market was very European centric with over 80 percent of shipments destined for here. However, with faster growth now forecast in non-European emerging markets such as the USA, China and India, opportunities for European-focused suppliers to gain share may be limited."