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Big Q1 for Solar Inverter Makers

Global inverter shipments reached 3.1 gigawatts (GW) in Q1 2010 – the largest first quarter total for the industry, and the second highest quarterly result on record, according to latest confirmed results from IMS Research.

According to a recently released report from IMS Research, Q1 was a big for PV inverter suppliers for two very different reasons. All suppliers reported very strong performance making Q1 the largest first quarter on record in terms of inverter shipments.

Despite this strong result, demand for inverters still outstripped supply and the component shortage and inverter production problems that began in Q4 2009 in fact worsened in Q1 with quarter-to-quarter supply falling. Total global inverter shipments were 3.7 GW in Q4, some 16% higher than Q1.

“In a ‘normal’ year this kind of seasonality would be expected; however, as strong demand has continued into early 2010 with the impending cut to Germany’s feed-in tariff, this sequential decline of inverter shipments contrasts the increasing shipments of PV modules and highlights that the supply of inverters may still be restraining growth of the PV industry," said Ash Sharma PV group director at IMS.

Production constraints still blight the PV inverter industry, with even market leader SMA having to issue a formal apology to its customers; it recently indicated its production capacity would be limited to around 1.3 GW in the second quarter and supply constraints would not ease until July at the earliest.

Despite the supply of components strongly affecting SMA’s abilities to raise its production output, it did in fact gain market share in Q1, illustrating that this shortage is also impacting its competitors’ business and the issue is affecting the entire inverter industry.

Whether or not the shortage will impact developers project pipelines in the coming months remains to be seen, but the shortage will likely increase the amount of lead time needed for larger, commercial and utility scale projects.

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