Energy storage tops the list of requirements for PV inverter buyers

A new survey of more than 400 global photovoltaic inverter customers has revealed a rapidly growing need for energy storage in PV systems.


IMS Research (acquired by IHS, Inc.)A new survey conducted by IMS Research – now part of IHS Inc. – of more than 400 global photovoltaic (PV) inverter customers has revealed a rapidly growing need for energy storage in PV systems. Despite the infancy of the energy storage market, nearly one third of respondents indicated that they expect to be using energy storage in over 40% of the PV systems they install by 2015. The recent survey of global installers, system integrators and wholesalers also revealed that Chinese PV inverters are gaining acceptance and that the high price of microinverters is the main barrier to them gaining share.

Growing need for energy storage

When asked which requirement they saw becoming most important over the next two years, respondents from Germany, Italy, and the U.K. selected energy storage as being more critical than any other requirement for future PV inverters. When asked what the main driver for the adoption of energy storage would be, the most common response from customers was a reduction in battery prices helping to drive lower system prices and make storage financially viable.

The survey found that over 60% of respondents believed that an acceptable increase in system price for the inclusion of energy storage would be between 10 and 29%, however, almost 30% of respondents indicated they would be willing to pay an even higher premium.

“Energy storage is becoming an increasingly important feature for PV systems and if suppliers are able to deliver products in line with the industry’s expectations, the market for energy storage in PV could increase significantly over the next two years,” explained Sam Wilkinson, manager power and energy research at IHS. 

High price of microinverters restricting adoption

Price was also an important factor for respondents when considering using microinverters, and their high price was the most common reason given for not using them in their PV installations. However, the survey found that the proportion of customers using microinverters had increased by 10 percentage points in 2012 compared to 2011, with their ability to combat shading and the additional design flexibility that they offer given as the most common reasons for using them.

“As a result of the advantages and features that they offer, microinverters and power optimizers are beginning to become more widely accepted, however price is a major drawback and the majority of respondents who do not currently purchase microinverters stated they would need to reduce in price by over 50% for them to consider using them,” added Wilkinson.

Chinese products gaining acceptance

The survey also highlighted a growing acceptance for Chinese inverter products. In comparison to the survey conducted over one year ago, respondents that believe Chinese inverters are of an acceptable level of quality increased from 30 to 40%. The most notable increase came from customers located in Germany, where the proportion more than doubled. The most common concerns quoted by those that did not consider Chinese inverters to offer an acceptable level of quality were reliability of the products and the levels of service and warranty offered.

In total, over 400 purchasers of PV inverters including distributors, installers, integrators, EPCs, and wholesalers were surveyed by IHS to understand more about their requirements when choosing an inverter and a supplier. The results have been published in recently-released report, PV Inverter Customer Survey – World - 2013 which is available immediately.

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