Huawei edges out SMA as leading global inverter by shipments, finds GTM Research study


An upcoming report by GTM Research has revealed that China’s Huawei has nudged Germany'’s SMA from the global top spot for inverter suppliers in terms of MWac shipped in 2015.

GTM'’s Global PV Inverter and MLPE Landscape report sees SMA relinquish, for the first time, top spot in terms of the volumes of MW shipments last year.

However, solid growth in the higher-value U.S. market meant that the German specialist maintained its position at the top of the global revenue charts, although Huawei and fellow Chinese inverter supplier Sungrow are snapping at SMA'’s heels.

For Huawei, its growing dominance of the Chinese market helped propel it to first place in terms of MW shipped, and its success appears to underline the ability of string inverters to operate across all solar sectors.

“Huawei has upended the notion that string inverters would be used in place of central inverters in small and progressively larger utility projects,” said GTM Research analyst Scott Moskowitz. “The company has committed to a fully string inverter portfolio, employing their devices in some of the largest solar power plants in the world.”

The GTM Research report shows that the inverter market is becoming more and more consolidated, with the ten leading proponents of inverter and module level power electronics (MLPE) technology accounting for 75% of global shipments last year. In 2014, that figure was 69% and marks the highest concentration of a handful of suppliers since 2010, when the market was dominated by a handful of European suppliers.

Today, there is a broader geographical spread of suppliers, with Germany'’s SMA still largely on top (third in terms of MWac shipped and leading the board for revenue with more than $1.13 billion generated last year), with ABB of Switzerland (fourth place for both revenue and shipments) and Austria's Fronius (tenth place in terms of revenue) comprising Europe’s representatives in the top tens.

For Asia, China’'s Huawei (top place in terms of MWac shipments and second for revenue) and Sungrow (second place in shipments and third place in revenue) are joined by Wuxi Sineng (fifth place MWac shipment)and TBEA (seventh place in MWac shipments) in the tables, whereas Japan is represented by TMEIC (sixth place in both tables), Omron (eighth place in terms of global revenue) and Tabuchi (ninth place for revenue).

The U.S. market is represented by Power Electronics’ ninth-place ranking in terms of MWac shipments, while microinverter specialist Enphase posted the seventh-highest revenue in 2015 globally.

Performing well in both shipments and revenue is Israel’s SolarEdge, which specializes in MLPE power optimizers. SolarEdge had the fifth-highest revenues globally last year, and was tenth in terms of MWac shipped – rising ten places in the space of a year thanks to its strong performance in the U.S. residential market in particular.

For revenue, the top ten vendors featured accounted for 63% of the overall global market for inverters, which further served to highlight how consolidated the market has become. However, movement immediately below the leading ten suppliers is encouraging, with General Electric (GE) in particular looking a good bet to challenge the status quo soon: sustained interest in its 1,500 volt inverters helped push GE ten places up the ranking into 12th place in terms of shipments.

“No matter how you view the numbers, the market is growing increasingly concentrated among leading suppliers in major markets,” added Moskowitz. “These same vendors are taking advantage of global supply chains and additionally supplying growth markets in Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East.”

The full GTM Report will be released in the second quarter of the year and contain detailed product trends, company profiles, regional market share, pricing and forecasts for the sector over the next five years.

This article was amended to reflect that Fronius is an Austrian company.

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