Huawei enjoys greatest 12-month gain in global inverter market

Data released today by IHS reveals that China’s Huawei has enjoyed the largest 12-month gains in the global PV inverter market.

While the telecommunications giant has made impressive strides in the sector, traditional pure-play inverter suppliers such as SMA and ABB have seen their stranglehold of the market loosened.

Germany’s SMA remains the leading inverter supplier in terms of market share, but the first three quarters of 2014 have seen the inverter giant relinquish some 6% of its lead to rivals. ABB, in second place, has lost slightly more than 1% of the market.

According to IHS senior analyst for PV inverter research Cormac Gilligan, this latest shuffle is an indication that the balance of power in the inverter market is beginning to tilt away from Europe.

"Global PV inverter supplier rankings have changed substantially over the past 12 months, led by large gains from Japanese, Chinese and module-level power electronic suppliers," Gilligan said.

SMA’s limited exposure to the soaring Japanese and Chinese markets – coupled with declining orders in Europe – have undermined the company’s bottom line at the same time that Huawei has enjoyed dramatic growth in its domestic Chinese market.

The telecoms specialist is now one of the leading inverter names in China, and now shares the 4.8 GW of inverter shipments recorded in the country in Q3 2014 with other leading Chinese inverter suppliers, such as Sungrow and TBEA Sunoasis.

"Suppliers with a major presence in the U.S., Japan, China and other high-growth markets were some of the biggest year-over-year gainers, while those that were heavily reliant on Germany, Italy and other countries that previously led the market lost considerable market share," added Gilligan.

Japan’s high-price domestic market puts it in first place in terms of global inverter revenue, which has had the knock-on effect of propelling its domestic inverter suppliers – such as Omrom, Tabuchi and TMEIC – up the global market share charts, with revenues largely drawn from Japan only.

The increase in market share of microinverter company Enphase and power optimizer specialists SolarEdge suggests that module level power electronics (MLPE) are an increasingly preferred option for installers and consumers, particularly in the U.S. and Europe where there appears to be robust demand for this type of technology.

Europe’s most dynamic PV market, the U.K., has helped improve the market share of Schneider Electric – where the European inverter supplier is active – while its presence in France, India and Japan has also helped the company gain considerable market share over the past year. Indeed, Schneider Electric was the only European company to enjoy a positive 2014, growing its global revenue share by almost 2% in the first three quarters of the year – the third-best performance after Huawei and Tabuchi.

TMEIC, TBEA Sunoasis and Enphase Energy all gained between 1-2% in the first three quarters of the year, with Omron and SolarEdge boosting their market share by less than 1%.