Year-over-year global photovoltaic (PV) inverter shipments increased 35 percent in the first nine months of this year; however, prices fell 26 percent to $0.12 per watt. Although global prices are declining, 20 gigawatts (GW) of inverters will ship in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015, leading to 4 percent year-over-year revenue growth reaching $6.9 billion. Increased competition in China, the United States and other key growth markets -- combined with stagnating markets in Japan and Germany -- have exacerbated falling prices, according to IHS Inc.
"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 latest IHS PV Inverter Customer Insight Survey reveals a growing acceptance of Chinese inverters in recent years. In fact more than half (58 percent) of all PV inverter buyers noted that Chinese inverters offered acceptable levels of quality, compared to just 30 percent in 2013. The growing acceptance of lower-cost Chinese suppliers is contributing to the price pressure on the industry.
"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."