Inverters have become all-rounders, used not just for converting direct current into alternating current but for analyzing and controlling PV installations as well as solar batteries, power-to-heat and smart home solutions. They include interfaces for digital communication and are connected with energy management systems which also incorporate electric vehicles.
Inverters owe their growing versatility primarily to digitalization and the new fields of use this opens up. Their diverse capabilities are also reflected in supply figures: 2017 was a record-breaking year, with continued growth of 23 percent over the previous year bringing inverter shipments to 98 gigawatts, according to an analysis by GTM Research. Industry professionals can learn more about the trends shaping this future-oriented market at Intersolar Europe 2018 from June 20–22 in Munich.
In addition to efficiency currently approaching the 99 percent mark, inverters are gaining entirely new innovative potential all along the energy supply chain. Digitalization is opening up new fields of use and business models for manufacturers. For example, inverters with an integrated charging function can refuel electric vehicles up to two and a half times faster than traditional charge controllers, while at the same time cutting installation costs by removing the need for additional cables and fuses.
The growing digital capabilities of inverters are also being applied in the heating sector, where they are used to control heating elements for hot water production in boilers and buffer tanks, which can be run on excess solar power. And modern PV and battery inverters even fulfill the need for solutions that contribute more to the stability of the grid. Thanks to their energy management qualities, they can supply power as and when it is needed.
Start-ups and spin-offs are turning digital services into big business
Modern inverters are thus generating innovative areas of business for manufacturers. But prosumers too are profiting, as more and more inverter manufacturers connect their solutions with digital platforms and offer integrated services for professional energy customers. According to market researchers at IHS Markit, this is the latest trend – suppliers are expanding their portfolios to include software and cloud services that they connect with their PV inverters on digital platforms.
Cooperation with partners from fields such as e-mobility, energy storage and cooling is driving new business models which pool the core expertise of multiple industries. This allows prosumers to use professional energy management solutions without having to develop costly infrastructure themselves.
The vast potential that lies in this digital and innovative technology is highlighted by commercial developments in the industry. Around the world, inverter manufacturers in particular are investing in hardware, software and cloud services to ensure they are ideally placed to profit from the trend in energy management services. And there’s another new development – businesses are outsourcing this pioneering field of business to subsidiary companies.
These spin-offs are in turn cooperating with municipal utilities, housing construction companies and telecommunications businesses, for example, to offer white label solutions in areas such as energy management and monitoring. This means above all falling energy costs for the purchasers, as production and distribution become more efficient. And both commercial and private prosumers can integrate excess solar power into the grid.
Intersolar Europe showcases the trends on the inverter market
Seven of the ten leading inverter manufacturers will be represented at Intersolar Europe, the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry. For trade visitors, experts and the industry as a whole, Intersolar Europe is thus the ideal meeting point to explore and discuss the development of digitalization in this sector. An up-to-date overview will also be offered by the session “Inverters and Digitalization” at the Intersolar Europe Forum in hall A2 on June 21, 2018. And on June 20, businesses nominated for the Intersolar Europe AWARD will be presenting their innovative products and solutions in the field of inverters.
The growing business around digitalization and operation & maintenance will also be in the spotlight at the Intersolar Europe Conference. In the session “Power Plants: Operation & Maintenance”, for example, the speakers will explore the growing range of options offered by service providers as a result of digitalization.
Intersolar Europe and the parallel events will take place from June 20–22, 2018 under the umbrella of The smarter E Europe at Messe München.