PV Inverters Barreling Along, Though Germany Drops Back

More than 20GW of inverters were shipped in 2010, even with an uncharacteristic cooling off in Q4, according to IMS Research reports. Germany’s share of inverter shipments has fallen steadily over the past five quarters, as other international markets have taken off.

Global PV inverter revenues reached $1.6 billion in Q4’10, 24% lower than the previous quarter, but 30% higher than in Q4’09, according to IMS Research’s latest quarterly report on the market. Factory-gate prices also fell in the quarter by 4%. Shipments remained robust despite cooling demand and high inventory levels.

IMS Research’s recently released report, which is based on actual sales and shipment data from 35 of the largest PV inverter suppliers, including the largest Chinese vendors, revealed that 2010 did not see the typical end-of-year rally; and shipments of inverters fell substantially in Q4. A further slide in shipments and revenues is also estimated for Q1’11 because of very high customer inventories and low demand in Europe.

“Q4’10 was another solid quarter for PV inverter shipments. Despite the sequential decline, more than 20GW of inverters were shipped in 2010 — a staggering amount in light of the component shortage that blighted the industry in the first half of the year,” says Ash Sharma, PV research director at IMS Research.

The recent report also revealed that Germany’s dominance in this market was starting to wane. “Germany’s share of inverter shipments has fallen steadily over the past five quarters as other international markets have taken off. Germany accounted for more than half of all inverter shipments in Q4’09, but this fell to just 35% in Q4’10”, Sharma added. Despite this, Europe/Middle East/Africa’s (EMEA’s) share of global PV inverter shipments remained stable in 2010, consuming more than 80% of total industry shipments in the year.

Germany’s falling share of the inverter market was also apparent in the results of its supplier base, with many German suppliers losing market share globally. The biggest market share loser last year according to IMS Research was market leader SMA Solar Technology which shed 5 percentage points despite doubling its sales.

IMS Research predicts very weak demand for inverters in Q1 and Q2 2011 since several GW of inventory is being held throughout the supply chain and because of weak demand in Europe. IMS Research’s Ash Sharma will be presenting at Photon’s 2nd PV Inverter Conference in Berlin on April 12th and giving the industry an updated view on supply and demand dynamics.

IMS Research has been publishing quarterly reports on the global PV inverter market since 2007. It collects data from more than 90% of the industry and publishes 10 reports each year that are used by 40 of the world’s largest suppliers.

IMS Research is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry, with a particular expertise in the PV (solar) market. Learn more at www.pvmarketresearch.com


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