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Solar PV microinverters and power optimisers up 500% in 2010

Shipments of solar photovoltaic (PV) microinverters and power optimisers soared over 500% in 2010, according to analyst IMS Research.

By Kari Williamson

Despite the huge growth, they still only accounted for less than 1% of solar PV inverter revenues however.

Most shipments have so far been limited to only a few suppliers such as Enphase and SolarEdge which have seen success in the solar PV microinverter and DC-DC power optimiser markets respectively, but now there are more than 20 suppliers known to be active, and many more in ‘stealth mode’.

Based on this, IMS Research forecasts the solar PV microinverter and power optimiser market to more than double on average every year to 2015, reaching US$1.3 billion.

Prices for these 'disruptive' technologies are predicted to be considerably lower than they are today, with the benefits of volume production achieved through OEM agreements. However in 2015, it is forecast that solar PV microinverter average prices will still be close to 50% higher than those of conventional inverters limiting their penetration to only 6% of the market.

IMS Research’s 2011 PV Microinverter & Power Optimizer report predicts that the growing supplier base and decreasing prices of the two disruptive technologies will drive growth.

“Disruptive technologies such as microinverters and power optimisers claim to offer many benefits including greater yield, easier installation and improved safety and monitoring; but currently their higher prices and relative immaturity in the marketplace has restricted uptake, especially in non-residential installations. Uptake of microinverters in particular has been very slow outside of North America with installers in Europe still more confident in using string inverters“, comments Tom Haddon, PV Market Analyst at IMS Research and Co-author of the report.

Young market

Although the market is still young, several factors are likely to either enhance adoption of the technology or hinder it, IMS Research believes.

A number of solar PV microinverter and power optimiser suppliers are known to be in active partnership discussions with module suppliers, to provide module-integrated solutions. It is predicted that 45% of microinverters and 40% of power optimisers will be shipped in combination with a solar PV module in 2015.

“By partnering with module suppliers, microinverter and power optimiser suppliers gain access to a huge customer base and an established sales channel, present a better price proposition to customers, and also offer product differentiation to module suppliers,” Haddon adds.

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Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets