PV Inverter Price Drops Could Haunt Suppliers’ Bottom Lines


The global solar photovoltaic inverter market is predicted to grow by 23% this year, reaching almost 32 GW, according to a report from IMS Research. However, the outlook isn't so good for industry revenues, which are forecast to grow by just 3% this year to hit $7 billion for the first time.

According to the report, the global PV inverter market shrank marginally in terms of revenues in 2011 but is predicted to return to growth this year. IMS forecasts that shipments will grow by almost 25%; however, pricing declines will see revenues grow by just 3% this year.

‘In 2012, suppliers will continue to see high shipment growth but may struggle to see top- and bottom-line growth,’ explains Ash Sharma, director of IMS Research's PV practice." Inverter prices will see another double-digit drop in 2012, partly driven by product mix change and shifts in demand to lower-cost countries, but also standard price erosion as major markets stagnate."

In 2011, global inverter shipments grew by more than 12%, despite the excess inventory overhang from the prior year, and reached 27 GW, but the European market shrank considerably, the analysis found. Europe's dominance of the PV inverter market is predicted to continue to wane due to its two biggest markets – Germany and Italy – facing significant reductions in their annual installations, IMS says.

"Europe's share of PV inverter shipments and revenues was over 80 percent in 2010; however, we forecast this to fall to less than 40 percent in 2016 and revenues not to return to 2011 levels in the next five years, Sharma says." This, in itself, presents a huge challenge to suppliers, which are mainly European, with the majority of their facilities and customers located in that region."

Although the outlook for Europe is not so bright, the global picture for PV inverter suppliers looks somewhat better. Global shipments are predicted to continue growing at a double-digit rate over the next five years, with revenues exceeding $9 billion by 2016, IMS predicts.

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