Solar microinverter shipments to quadruple, reach 2.1 GW in 2017

The global market for microinverters will expand by a factor of four from 2013 through 2017 as microinverters are adopted in greater numbers outside the U.S., according to IHS.

08/27/2013


IHS Inc.The global market for microinverters will expand by a factor of four from 2013 through 2017 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 worldwide are set to increase to 2.1 GW in 2017, up from around 500 MW in 2013, according to the report, The World Market for PV Microinverters and Power Optimizers - 2013 Edition, from IHS. Shipments during the period are forecast to rise fourfold, expanding at a 306-percent rate.

Microinverters are devices that convert dc electricity from a single solar module into 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% 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 microinverters—including their higher energy yields, enhanced safety and module-level monitoring capabilities—are making them more attractive in commercial systems, especially in small-scale projects."

Micro prices for microinverters

Global photovoltaic microinverter shipment forcast. Source: IHS Inc.While 2013 is forecast to be the first year that microinverter shipments grow to more than 500 MW, 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% 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.

Strictly commercial

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.

In an early sign of success for this strategy, Enphase recently announced a 2 MW commercial installation in Canada.

Almost one-third of global microinverter shipments in 2017 will be going to commercial systems compared to 9% in 2012. The majority of these shipments in 2017 will be for systems sized between 10 and 100 kW.

Macroeconomics for microinverters

The U.S. in 2012 accounted for 72% of global microinverter shipments. However, the U.S. share will fall to 50 percent by 2017 as a result of microinverters penetrating into new markets in Europe and Asia.

Outside of the U.S., microinverters are forecast to be most successful and achieve the highest penetration rates in the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Australia. Each of these markets presents excellent opportunities for microinverter suppliers if they can enter quickly and overcome the unique challenges of each country.

"Japan has a very large residential market, but microinverter shipments have been very limited due to certification requirements and a strong preference for domestic suppliers," Gilligan added. "PV markets such as Australia and the United Kingdom also offer great potential for microinverters because they are relatively new markets with installers that are not so entrenched in using string inverters, allowing microinverter suppliers to more easily educate them of the benefits of their solutions."

Thoroughly modern modules

A new trend for suppliers is to offer complete solar modules that integrate microinverters, products known as ac modules. Some microinverter makers are partnering with module suppliers to produce these devices.

SolarBridge Technologies and Enecsys Ltd. are some of the major suppliers now offering ac modules, and these companies have entered into a number of partnerships with module suppliers.

"AC modules allow module suppliers to differentiate themselves from the competition while allowing microinverter makers to take advantage of the module suppliers' sales channels," Gilligan noted. "They also allow faster installation time as the microinverter is installed at the module factory rather than on-site, which can be a compelling reason for the adoption of microinverters."

IHS predicts that ac module shipments will more than quadruple in 2013 and continue growing to account for 32% of total global shipments in 2017.



No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
High-performance buildings; Building envelope and integration; Electrical, HVAC system integration; Smoke control systems; Using BAS for M&V
Pressure piping systems: Designing with ASME; Lab ventilation; Lighting controls; Reduce energy use with VFDs
Smoke control: Designing for proper ventilation; Smart Grid Standard 201P; Commissioning HVAC systems; Boilers and boiler systems
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Consulting-Specifying Engineer case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Protecting standby generators for mission critical facilities; Selecting energy-efficient transformers; Integrating power monitoring systems; Mitigating harmonics in electrical systems
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software
Integrating BAS, electrical systems; Electrical system flexibility; Hospital electrical distribution; Electrical system grounding
Cannon Design’s blog is a place for the many voices of the firm to share thoughts and news related to current projects...
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.