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Solar inverter market up 30% in Q4 2010

Global solar photovoltaic (PV) inverter revenues reached US$1.6 billion in Q4’10, 24% lower than the previous quarter, but 30% higher than in Q4’09, according to IMS Research.

By IMS Research, edited by Renewable Energy Focus staff

Factory-gate prices also fell in the quarter by 4%, although shipments remained robust despite cooling demand and high inventory levels.

IMS Research’s report, which is based on actual sales and shipment data from 35 of the largest solar PV inverter suppliers, including the largest Chinese vendors, revealed that 2010 did not see the typical end-of-year rally; and shipments of solar 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 20 GW 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 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 adds.

Despite this, EMEA’s share of global solar PV inverter shipments remained stable in 2010, consuming more than 80% of total industry shipments in the year.

Germany’s falling share of the solar 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 solar 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.

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