According to market research firm, IHS several key dynamics are at work propelling PV microinverter and power optimiser shipments to reach 1.3GW in 2013, up from 856MW in 2012.

However, IHS noted to PV Tech that actual market growth in 2012 was lower than forecasted due to slower than expected uptake of the products in markets outside the US, which has been dominated sales since US-based Enphase and others created the market.

According to IHS, microinverter shipments in 2013 are expected to around 500MW but will increase to 2.1GW in 2017.

The strong growth is expected due to the continued traction in regions outside the US, penetration of commercial rooftop markets and ASP declines.

“Microinverters have reached very high adoption rates in the United States, particularly in the residential market, where penetration will reach more than 40 percent in 2013,” said Cormac Gilligan, PV market analyst at IHS. “However, in order to grow or maintain market share, microinverter suppliers now are striving to expand to new regions that at present don’t use the technology. Meanwhile, the advantages of microinverters—including their higher energy yields, enhanced safety and module-level monitoring capabilities—are making them more attractive in commercial systems, especially in small-scale projects.”

The research firm said that the US accounted for 72% of microinverter shipments in 2012, yet that share would gradually decline to around 50% in 2017 as new markets such as the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia developed.

Almost one-third of global microinverter shipments in 2017 are expected to have been commercial systems compared to only 9% in 2012. The majority of these shipments in 2017 will be for systems sized between 10 and 100 kilowatts, IHS noted.

Another demand factor is expected to be the growth in AC modules.

“AC modules allow module suppliers to differentiate themselves from the competition while allowing microinverter makers to take advantage of the module suppliers’ sales channels,” Gilligan noted. “They also allow faster installation time as the microinverter is installed at the module factory rather than on-site, which can be a compelling reason for the adoption of microinverters.”

IHS is forecasting that AC module shipments will more than quadruple in 2013 and continue growing to account for 32 percent of total global shipments in 2017.

However, new market entrants in the microinverter market, such as SMA Solar and PowerOne are expected to result in an increasingly competitive market, driving ASPs downward. IHS expects prices to decline 16% in 2013.

Despite a projected double-digit price decline, strong shipment growth will push microinverter market revenue to increase to more than US$250 million in 2013, with revenue estimated to reach US$700 million in 2017.

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