PV inverters suffer price pressures in 2011, despite high installs

The global photovoltaics inverter market will slide more than 10% this year, due to an inventory surplus from 2010 and price pressures. These combined forces will bring PV inverters back below $6 billion. However, according to IMS Research, Asia and the US installs are growing, and new products are pushing inverter costs back up.

July 6, 2011 — The global photovoltaics (PV) inverter market will slide more than 10% this year, due to an inventory surplus from 2010 and price pressures. These combined forces will bring PV inverters back below $6 billion. However, according to IMS Research, Asia and the US installs are growing, and new products are pushing inverter costs back up.

IMS Research released “The World Market for PV Inverters,” based on revenue and shipment data from more than 100 suppliers. The report depicts a very mixed outlook for the PV inverter industry in 2011, with installations up but shipments dipping. “Installations will grow by 16% in 2011, driven by demand in Asia and Americas. However, shipments of PV inverters will in fact fall by around 5% due to the oversupply into the market towards the end of 2010, said Ash Sharma, senior research director for PV. Like-for-like prices have fallen 10-15% in some cases, Sharma added. Average prices are dropping as well. Steeper price drops have been seen in emerging markets, where suppliers are competing for lucrative market share.

There is some hope for average prices, with changes to the installed product mix, new model introductions with added features, and the appeal of smaller inverters for some apps. All factors considered, IMS Research expects overall inverter prices will fall by only 8% in 2011.

Industry revenues will still come out above — more than double — 2009 levels this year, and shipments will exceed 20GW. And while total PV inverter revenues will be below 2010 levels, some suppliers to Asia and the US will gain. These are likely to be inverter makers targeting the MW-level utility-scale solar installations, and the smaller, commercial installations that use 3-phase string inverters. “Small 3-phase string inverters grew by a massive 560% in 2010 driven by high demand in commercial systems due to their ease of installations and scalability. Their penetration is forecast to increase further in almost every geographic market,” Sharma noted.

Longer term, revenues will top $10 billion by 2015.

The 4th edition of The World Market for Photovoltaic Inverters covers more than 100 suppliers and features 50,000 data points on the industry, using actual sales and shipment data to characterize detailed market sizes, market shares and forecasts. The report includes forecasts for 21 key countries, inverter demand analysis, and a full competitive environment review with market shares for the last 4 years.

IMS Research is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry. For more information, visit www.pvmarketresearch.com

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