Inverter shipments spike, market shuffles are nigh

Solar inverters are still a powerfully hot commodity in solar PV system demand, setting another record in 2Q10 — and likely to see significant market changes in coming months, says IMS Research.

August 20, 2010 – Solar inverters are still a powerfully hot commodity in solar PV system demand, setting another record in 2Q10 — and likely to see significant market changes in coming months, says IMS Research.

Inverter shipments topped 4.9GW in 2Q10, up about 58% from 1Q10 and an eye-popping 284% higher than a year ago, and 30% higher than the previous record quarter (4Q09). Clearly, though, growth can be described in one word: Germany, where PV installations were the destination for more than half of inverter shipments (see figure). Inverter shipments for the first six months of 2010 surpassed 8GW, a threefold increase from the same period in 2009 and nearly totaling all of 2009.

PV inverter shipment growth, change in MW shipments. (Source: IMS Research)



By region, the “EMEA” (Europe + Middle East + Africa) made up 90% of inverter shipments, up 300% vs. a year ago. Inverter shipments to the Americas doubled. In terms of revenues, inverter suppliers tallied €1.5B — a 165% increase (vs. 284% in terms of MW), due to the fifth straight quarterly drop in inverter prices (this time 30%). That’s due in part to tight supply, but also a shift toward larger inverters which have lower price/W, noted IMS Research’s Ash Sharma, PV research director.

The latest inverter figures support a projection of 15GW in PV installations this year, “with 3Q and 4Q both expected to be strong,” Sharma said. And the combination of “extremely high demand” and production issues will lead to “major changes in the market share of suppliers,” he said. Inverter 600-lb gorilla SMA lost about -5% off its marketshare in 2Q10, he says, while Power-One tacked on about 6% share.

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