PV microinverter, power optimizer success hinges on module integration

Photovoltaics microinverters and power optimizers saw 500%+ shipment growth in 2010, says IMS Research. The market is forecast to more than double on average every year to 2015, as prices drop and volume production ramps.

September 13, 2011 — Photovoltaics microinverters and power optimizers saw 500%+ shipment growth in 2010, though the “disruptive technologies in the PV inverter industry” accounted for less than 1% of PV inverter revenues, says IMS Research. The market is forecast to more than double on average every year to 2015, as prices drop and volume production ramps.

The microinverter and power optimizer market will be worth more than $1.3 billion in 2015, at which point prices will have dropped and volume production will be ramping through OEM agreements. While prices will be lower, the average microinverter in 2015 will cost about 50% more than a conventional inverter. This will curb wider industry adoption to 6% of the total market.  

More than 20 suppliers offer smart inverter technologies, though the majority of microinverters are supplied by Enphase; the majority of DC/DC power optimizers come from SolarEdge, along with a few other major suppliers in each category. Many more are waiting in the wings in stealth mode, IMS Research says.

IMS Research’s 2011 PV Microinverter & Power Optimizer report notes both the price decline and supplier proliferation in its predictions for microinverter/power optimizer growth. In today’s market, the technologies’ “greater yield, easier installation and improved safety and monitoring” are not enough to outweigh their higher costs and lack of an established install base for most sourcing decisions, said Tom Haddon, PV Market Analyst at IMS Research and co-author of the report. Non-residential installs are these new technologies’ toughest market, he added.

Figure. Revenue growth and pricing change forecast for power optimizers and PV microinverters. SOURCE: IMS Research, September 2011.

Uptake of microinverters in particular has been very slow outside of North America; installers in Europe are still more confident in using string inverters, Haddon noted.

The success of microinverters and power optimizers hinges on module supplier partnerships for product integration, shows IMS Research’s report. In 2015, 45% of microinverters and 40% of power optimizers will be shipped with a PV module. Microinverter/power optimizer suppliers can access a “huge customer base and an established sales channel” with these partnerships, said Haddon, noting that the combo gives customers a better price proposition and differentiates module suppliers.

Analysis of global PV microinverter and power optimizer market is available from the 3rd edition of IMS Research?s recently released PV Microinverter & Power Optimizer report. It has been researched over the past 6 months and provides a detailed and reliable assessment of the global market. IMS Research provides market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry. Learn more at www.pvmarketresearch.com.

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