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Global Solar PV Inverter Shipments Increase As Prices Fall, Limiting Growth

The year-over-year growth of solar PV inverter shipments increased 35% over the first nine months of 2015, but prices fell 26%, limiting global revenue growth.

New analysis from leading solar analysts at IHS found that year-over-year growth for the first nine months of the year increased 35% between 2014 and 2015. However, limiting a similar line of growth for the global revenue of solar PV inverters was a 26% decline in price, dropping to $0.12 per watt, with experts laying the blame at the feet of increased competition in China, the US, and other key growth markets.

Subsequently, despite an expected 20 GW of inverters shipping in the fourth quarter of 2015, IHS analysts predict that year-over-year revenue growth will only increase 4%, reaching $6.9 billion.


“The shift to utility-scale installations is changing the product mix and causing prices to fall,” said Cormac Gilligan, solar supply chain senior analyst for IHS Technology. “For example in the United States lower-priced large central inverters will account for an increasing share of inverter shipments over the next 15 months.”

The growing competition is most acutely seen in the growing acceptance of Chinese inverters: according to the latest IHS PV Inverter Customer Insight Survey, 58% of PV inverter buyers found Chinese inverters offered acceptable levels of quality, up from only 30% in 2013.

“Leading Western suppliers offer inverters that meet the latest grid codes and offer a high quality after-sales service,” Gilligan said. “Although Chinese inverters are gaining acceptance, in terms of quality, Chinese companies must still offer competitive pricing to be considered by customers in new markets.”

“Inverter buyers are concerned that Chinese inverters suppliers offer inadequate technical support and after-sales service,” Gilligan said. “As more customers realize Chinese inverters offer acceptable levels of quality, it is only a matter of time before they are selected as preferred suppliers by some of the leading solar lease suppliers and companies offering EPC services in the United States; however, while Chinese inverters are gaining acceptance, SMA Solar Technology was still the top brand globally for the fourth consecutive year.”

IHS reported on the Chinese aspect of inverter shipments earlier this year when it analyzed solar PV inverter shipments to China in 2014, finding that despite a nearly 18% increase, revenue still dropped 6%.

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