In its latest quarterly report, the market research company says that despite the fall from the previous quarter, the market still appears to be growing, with shipments totaling four gigawatts (GW), thus representing a 32 percent increase over the first quarter of 2010.
The report was based on sales and shipment data from 35 of the largest photovoltaic inverter suppliers, including those from China. While the first quarter of the year in the photovoltaic market is traditionally weak, the 38 percent drop is much larger than the 17 percent decrease recorded in the previous year
Looking forward, the company predicts only slow growth in demand for inverters in the second quarter of 2011, as demand in Europe is insufficient to clear the several GW of inventory still being held.
IMS Researchs Ash Sharma commented that the first quarter of 2011 was a difficult one for inverter suppliers and order cancellations were common. "Quarter one 2011 is now the second quarter in succession where shipments have fallen," said Sharma.
Italy overtook Germany for the first time in the quarter as a market for inverters with over 1.2 GW shipped. However, as the review of the Italian feed-in tariff system halted many projects and effectively stalled the market, many of those inverters would have gone into inventory.
Germanys falling primacy in the photovoltaic industry also extended to its share of the inverter market, with many losing market share. SMA Solar, the market leader, reported weaker results than in the first quarter of the previous year while U.S.-based suppliers Satcon and Advanced Energy performed strongly.