PV inverter prices drop in Q2

PV inverter suppliers will see revenues fall 1.3% year-on-year (YOY) in Q2 2011, thanks to a 20% plunge in factory-gate price, according to IMS Research. Inverter shipments grew in the quarter — more than 40% over Q1.

August 24, 2011 — Photovoltaic inverter suppliers will see revenues fall 1.3% year-on-year (YOY) in Q2 2011, thanks to a 20% plunge in factory-gate price, according to IMS Research. Inverter shipments grew in the quarter — more than 40% over Q1 — to bring H1 2011 shipments to almost 10GW. Excess inventory is being drained off, suggesting that downstream demand has begun to pick up.

IMS Research forecasts 2011 inverter shipments at 20GW, but don’t expect revenues to match 2010’s highs. Prices were critically low in Q2, and this trend will continue throughout 2011.

“Average inverter prices fell rapidly in both Q1 and Q2 to under ?0.20/W,” down 20% from one year ago, said Ash Sharma, senior research director for PV at IMS Research, noting customer price reduction demands, geographical shifts to lower-priced regions, and a product mix change away from higher-priced string inverters to lower-cost three-phase products.

Lower-cost geographies such as India and China are pressing prices down. Suppliers are also trying to “buy” market share in new, emerging markets by surpressing their own selling prices. Sharma says these low quotes are “short-sighted and aggressively low.” Interviews with major integrators revealed that some leading inverter suppliers in a new, small European market were reducing prices by more than 45% to fend off rivals. The high number of inverter suppliers, all fighting for a weakened customer base, also has affected prices. “The fact that prices declined in all regions in Q2 and quite rapidly in established markets such as Germany and Italy due to lower demand, but increased supply. That can only lead to prices going one way,” added Sharma.

Average prices could potentially increase in coming quarters, IMS Research predicts, depending on several factors.

In Q2, market leader SMA Solar Technology recaptured some of the market share it had shed the prior quarter, with its share increasing by 8% to again control more than 30% of the overall market. SMA showed that it could compete on price, as well as technology, brand and value-add products, in Q2, Sharma said.

Quarterly analysis of global PV inverter market is available from IMS Research?s Quarterly PV Inverter Supply & Demand Report, which collects revenue and shipment data from more than 90% of the photovoltaics industry. IMS Research is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry, offering syndicated market studies, bespoke research and consultancy services. Learn more at www.pvmarketresearch.com

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