The Chinese PV inverter market grew by over 400% in 2011 to reach more than 2.5 GW in shipments, according to a new report from IMS Research (recently acquired by IHS Inc.). The growth was driven by the introduction of a national feed-in tariff (FIT).
The report also found that the market was highly consolidated in 2011 and that the 10 largest suppliers, which accounted for over 80% of shipments, included only one non-Chinese manufacturer. The strong growth of the Chinese market and the dominance of domestic suppliers will lead to Chinese manufacturers gaining significant share of the global PV inverter market, IMS Research predicts.
China's release of its national FIT scheme in July 2011 drove installations to reach some 2.4 GW for the year, creating a PV inverter market worth more than $300 million. Unlike with other major PV markets, however, demand for inverters is not widely spread across many model types,and inverters rated at 500 kW were by far the most popular last year.
‘500 kW inverters dominated utility-scale installations last year, as they best fulfilled the project developers' requirements to install ground-mount stations quickly, beating the end-of-year FIT reduction,’ says Frank Xie, senior analyst at IMS Research and author of the report. ‘As a result, they represented more than three-quarters of inverter shipments last year.’
Sungrow Power Supply, which recently listed on the Chinese stock market, was by far the largest supplier to the market in 2011, holding a share of more than one-third. Chinese suppliers dominated the domestic market last year; Elettronica Santerno was the only Western supplier ranked in the top 10 in 2011.
The rapid growth of the domestic market and the stronghold Chinese suppliers have on it may see the suppliers gain in the overall global market, the report adds. ‘Due to the drastically growing Chinese PV market, inverters shipped to China accounted for 10 percent of global shipments in 2011,’ notes Xie.
The report also reveals that the pricing for PV inverters in China is significantly lower than the global market.
‘As per requirements of the project bidding rules, all inverters are required to be shipped with free installation and warranty for five years in China,’ explains Xie. ‘Due to the very large nature of most of the projects being developed in China, prices of the winning bids are typically very low.’