Smart PV inverter shipments to grow

The drive is the utility concerns over grid imbalances, the increasing PV power being connected to the grid and the need for energy storage to take advantage of self-consumption tariffs and further incorporate PV into the smart grid.

The report "The World Market for PV Inverters" states that reactive power, smart grid interaction and energy storage are transforming inverters from a simple power conversion unit into an essential component of grid infrastructure and has the potential to radically change the PV inverter market over the next five years.

A highlighted trend in the report is the incorporation of energy storage into inverters. IMS expects that close to 5% of all PV inverters shipped in 2015 will be incorporated with storage functions to help power loads continuously throughout the day. Nevertheless, to enable this to happen, costs have to be reduced and efficiency and reliability have to be increased. This will then pave the way for widespread acceptance of the dual function. PV Research Analyst for IMS Tom Haddon says "Demand for PV inverters with energy storage will most likely be driven by incentives favouring ‘self-consumption’; however, current solutions, relying on lithium ion batteries, are currently too expensive and need to be reduced considerably before they will be deployed more widely."

Germany has been listed in the report as leading the integration of PV into the grid with the new Low and Medium Voltage Directives. Other countries are expected to follow suit as well. This is being seen as a probable factor in the fall of global inverter shipments to 42% by 2015 as the directives are fully enforced.

Haddon adds that utilities in Europe, especially, are pushing for inverters to assist in grid stabilization and conform to stricter technical requirements. "Despite this, most inverter shipments will still not be “fully smart” and will only have reactive power capabilities, rather than full smart grid interaction or energy storage".