Asia drives growth in global PV inverter market

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Despite lower growth and rapid price drops, revenues rose to US$7.1 billion, up from US$ 6.7 million in 2011. Amid weak worldwide solar market conditions, a surge of shipments in Asia energized the global photovoltaic inverter market in 2012. China and Japan registered record shipment levels in the fourth quarter.

Asia was the only major region whose PV inverter revenue grew sequentially in the final quarter of last year. Quarterly shipments there jumped by almost 1 GW, expanding annual shipments by 63% compared to the same time in 2011.

"Growth was driven by a strong increase in sales in Asia in the fourth quarter, which managed to offset a sequential decline of more than 2% in the EMEA region. This helped to drive annual shipments to 31 GW in 2012, up from 27 GW in 2011," said Sam Wilkinson, PV inverter research manager for IHS.

Meanwhile, revenue growth was somewhat restrained by intense price competition and a shift toward more sales in lower-price markets such as China, India and Eastern Europe. In these markets there tends to be a preference for larger inverters with lower prices.

European and U.S. suppliers continued to dominate the global photovoltaic inverter industry. Nevertheless, the market is changing swiftly towards Asia, the position of European suppliers slipped in 2012. The combined market share of the three largest European suppliers fell dramatically, declining to less than 30% in the fourth quarter of last year.

The three top photovoltaic inverter suppliers SMA, Power-One and Kaco remained unchanged this year. However, SMA saw its market share fall below 20% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Finally, the ranking of suppliers below the three leaders changed significantly. Four of 2012’s largest suppliers made big increases in their rankings: Colorado-based Advanced Energy, Enphase Energy of California, Danfoss Solar Inverters from Denmark and Omron from Japan.