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Global PV shipments drop 5% YoY in 2Q13

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PV shipment? inverter supplier? solar market?

According to the latest report from IHS, worldwide market shipments of solar photovoltaic (PV) inverters fell by five per cent YoY in Q2the first such decrease since 3Q11as demand declined in key European countries. PV inverter shipments in 2Q13 amounted to 8.3GW, down five per cent from 8.7GW during the same period in 2012.

The main culprit for the decrease in PV inverter shipments worldwide was the sharp slowdown in the European market. Shipments in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region during 1H13 fell more than 40 per cent compared to 1H12. The EMEA region accounted for only 6GW worth of shipments in 1H13, down from 10GW during the same period in 2012.

"The pace of contraction for inverter shipments in critical European countries such as Germany and Italy has been faster than expected, with some of these markets seeing their demand decline by more than 70 per cent this year," said Cormac Gilligan, senior PV market analyst at IHS. "Some inverter suppliers have been very reliant on these historically large markets. Because of this, inverter suppliers are seeking new markets and have expanded their presence internationally in high-growth countries, including the United States, China, Japan and India."

Despite the annual decrease, shipments grew on a sequential basis, rising by 24 per cent in Q2 compared to Q1. The large growth in QoQ shipments was largely accounted for by China, where inverter shipments increased by 174 per cent in 2Q13 to reach almost 2GW. The surge was powered by a rush to complete projects aided by China's Golden Sun programme.

"Although China's inverter shipments nearly tripled during 2Q13, the country's inverter market is still dominated by domestic suppliers," Gilligan added. "China remains a challenging market for Western suppliers to penetrate despite its size. Average inverter prices have decreased by 14 per cent in 2Q13 to reach as low as $0.07/W, which means that inverter suppliers really need a local presence in order to have competitive pricing in this market."

Average global inverter prices continued to decline, dropping by 10 per cent in 2Q13 compared to Q1. This decline was the result of inverter shipments shifting to lower-cost markets in Asia and continued price erosion in mature solar markets. Revenue decreased by 18 per cent YoY in 2Q13 to $1.6 billion.

In Europe inverter revenue fell by more than 50 per cent in 2Q13, with markets such as Germany and Italy suffering revenue declines of more than 60 per cent.

Decreasing European revenues have severely impacted the market share of domestic inverter manufacturers on the continent, which traditionally have been dependent on a few European markets. As a result, in 2Q13, only three European inverter suppliers ranked among the Top 10 suppliers in terms of market share. This was half the number compared to one year ago.

"Delays in gaining inverter certification for individual PV markets, decreasing revenues and difficulty in establishing a presence in new markets have posed significant challenges for the entrenched inverter suppliers from Europe," Gilligan noted. "The problem of decreasing revenues is further exacerbated by new market entrants, such as Chinese suppliers in Europe, and by the very competitive inverter prices in an already very crowded domestic market."

Inverter shipments will increase in 2H13 to reach more than 34.5GW for the full year, IHS predicted.

However, the majority of inverter demand is forecast to come from the Americas and Asia, which will continue to put further pressure on inverter suppliers that do not have a strong presence in these markets. Owing to this market shift, inverter suppliersparticularly Chinese and Japanese firms such as Sungrow, Omron, Tabuchi and TMEICare expected to increase their market share substantially in 2013 at the expense of some of the European suppliers.

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