By Kari Williamson
A lethargic quarter in Germany was the main contributor as the country recorded more than 50% lower third quarter solar PV inverter revenues compared to Q3’10.
On the other hand, prices stabilised in the third quarter, a welcome relief for suppliers that have had to endure heavy price erosion since the turn of the year. Average prices are still 15% lower than in 2010, however.
IMS Research says the market was limited by the lack of activity in Germany where shipments were over 1 GW lower than in Q3’10, contributing to global solar PV inverter shipments being 8% down year-on-year. Although shipments have grown for the last two consecutive quarters, revenues decreased because of falling prices.
Even though Q3’11 solar PV inverter shipments failed to hit 2010 quarterly levels, prices stabilised during the quarter, indicating a healthier level of inventory in the market, the analyst explains.
Exchange rates were also a contributing factor to revenue and price changes in Q3: “The majority of inverters are still sold in Europe where the average price per watt stabilised last quarter if measured in Euros. However, companies from outside the Eurozone realising their revenues in dollars may still have felt the price pressure as Dollar prices fell by 5% compared to Q2’11 due to changes in exchange rates,” comments Tom Haddon, PV Market Analyst at IMS Research.
“Price pressure will continue to be a prominent feature of the market for some time and it wouldn’t be wise for PV inverter suppliers to count on prices staying at this level for long.”
SMA holds the fort
Despite the sluggish performance of the German solar PV inverter market in Q3, SMA Solar Technology’s market share held stable at over 30% of revenues due to an increased focus on ‘foreign’ markets.
“Whilst SMA has always been strong in its domestic market, it is now turning its attentions to the faster growing emerging markets, with the Americas becoming a larger proportion of its business. In order to maintain or increase market share this strategy will need to continue,” Haddon concludes.
Despite declining shipments in Q3’11, IMS Research forecasts that annual solar PV inverter shipments will still grow in 2011 and break the 25 GW mark as new incentives in Asia and an end of year rally in Germany (before the 1 January feed-in tariff cut) help to stimulate demand.