Fall in market share for top ten PV inverter suppliers


The latest quarterly report by IMS Research, now a part of IHS Inc., states that the supplier base for PV inverters "further fragmented" in 2012 and the total market share of the top ten companies fell by over 4 percentage points. The 2012 global PV inverter supplier rankings from IMS Research is as follows:

  1. SMA
  2. Power-One
  3. Kaco
  4. Advanced Energy (+4)
  5. Fronius (-1)
  6. Enphase Energy (+5)
  7. Danfoss Solar Inverters (+5)
  8. Omron Corporation (+6)
  9. RefuSol
  10. Schneider Electric (-3)

Shifting of core markets

One reason cited for the market share fall is the lack of presence these solar inverter giants have in markets such as China and Japan. There has been a strong growth in demand from these two countries.

Sam Wilkinson, PV inverter research manager at IHS added, "The year 2012 saw many of the leading suppliers, including the three largest – SMA, Power-One and Kaco – lose market share, largely due to their limited presence in China and Japan, both of which grew rapidly in 2012."

The PV market continued to fragment, as the findings show, and the demand for PV products started weakening in core solar markets. SMA Solar Technology, for example, has seen its share of global revenue fall for the third consecutive year to just a little more than 25%. In 2009, SMA had a share of nearly 40%.

"The majority of suppliers that gained share in 2012 were mid-size companies that are targeting growing segments of the market, in contrast to the market leaders whose businesses still heavily revolved around the stagnating core markets in Europe. The number of suppliers with a market share of more than 1% increased to 24 in 2012, with this growing group of suppliers accounting for three-quarters of market revenue," Wilkinson added.

The companies that did manage to see market share growth were those who were well-positioned in fast-growing markets or those who offered new technologies. Advanced Energy and Enphase managed to improve their global rankings by 4 and 5 places respectively as a result of their U.S. market presence. Omron’s strong positioning in Japan also led to the company gaining 6 places and becoming the first Asian supplier to be in the top ten list.

Three suppliers had to give up their placements in the ranking: Satcon which declared bankruptcy, Siemens which withdrew from the industry, and Sputnik Engineering, which had set its focus on the slowing European market.

Merger, acquisitions and ranking

The merger and acquisition deals that have been making headlines did not and will not have any major impact on the PV inverter landscape. IHS found that these acquisitions will have only a minimal immediate impact on the composition of the supplier base.

IHS states, "Advanced Energy’s acquisition of REFUsol, and ABB’s acquisition of Power-One both represent strong strategic moves to broaden product portfolios and gain access to both existing core and new markets."

Power-One’s position in the ranking did not change as ABB’s market share was less than 1% in 2012 to begin with. Advanced Energy’s takeover of RefuSol would probably see the combined company slide up one place to take over the number three rank.

"The acquisitions do not represent a major consolidation in the industry—once the ranking tables are adjusted to allow for these changes, the combined market share of 2012’s 10 largest suppliers increases to just 59%, still less than we saw in 2011," continued Wilkinson.

The market is fragmenting on a global level as IHS states and China and Japan are touted to be the largest markets in 2013. "The end result is that these new markets are highly challenging for existing suppliers to penetrate as there is a deeply entrenched supplier base already in place. As the market continues to become more and more geographically diverse, the supplier base is likely to continue fragmenting," he concluded.