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PV microinverter shipments to grow fourfold in 2017

Posted: 29 Aug 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:microinverters? AC modules? PV?

According to the latest report from IHS, the global market for microinverters will quadruple from 2013 to 2017, expanding at a 306-per cent rate, as microinverters are adopted in greater numbers outside the U.S. while new markets also rush to take advantage of the devices' improved efficiency and features compared to conventional inverters. Photovoltaic (PV) microinverter shipments are set to increase to 2.1GW in 2017, up from around 500MW in 2013.

Microinverters are devices that convert direct current (DC) electricity from a single solar module into alternating current (AC). Although they are more costly than conventional inverters, microinverters can increase the energy harvest of a system compared to conventional string or central inverter devices, which convert power from multiple solar panels.

Until now, microinverter demand has largely been confined to the U.S. residential market. However, the emphasis is shifting to commercial solar systems and other regions.

"Microinverters have reached very high adoption rates in the U.S., particularly in the residential market, where penetration will reach more than 40 per cent in 2013," said Cormac Gilligan, PV market analyst at IHS. "However, in order to grow or maintain market share, microinverter suppliers now are striving to expand to new regions that at present don't use the technology. Meanwhile, the advantages of microinvertersincluding their higher energy yields, enhanced safety and module-level monitoring capabilitiesare making them more attractive in commercial systems, especially in small-scale projects."

While 2013 is forecast to be the first year that microinverter shipments grow to more than 500MW, it also will be a challenging year for suppliers in terms of competition and pricing. A number of new market entrants are releasing products, including the two largest PV inverter manufacturers, SMA and Power-One. This intensifying competition will result in microinverter prices dropping by 16 per cent in 2013.

Despite this double-digit price decrease, strong shipment growth will drive microinverter market revenue to increase to more than $250 million in 2013. And although prices will continue to fall in the coming years, IHS predicts that revenue will reach $700 million in 2017.

Enphase Energy retained its position as the world's dominant microinverter supplier in 2012 with a large share of the residential PV market in the U.S. However, as the number of microinverter suppliers has grown, the company has faced increasing competition. As a result, Enphase and all other suppliers have been targeting new markets for expansion and have been promoting the use of microinverters in commercial systems.


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