Domestic suppliers strengthen grip on booming Chinese inverter market

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China’s PV inverter market grew more than 100% last year, with domestic firms dominating the top of the rankings, according to IHS.

The market research firm’s ‘PV inverter China market report 2014’ said explosive growth in inverter sales in China last year saw revenues mushroom from US$400 million in 2012 to US$800 million.

Chinese suppliers were the chief beneficiary of this, with the top 10 positions occupied entirely by domestic companies for the second year running.

At the top of the list for the fourth consecutive year was Sungrow, which had 30% of the market share in 2013.

The other top-five suppliers were TBEA Sunoasis, Emerson Network Power, Chint and KStar.

But the fact each of these enjoyed less than 4% market share each IHS said illustrates the difficult business conditions faced by Chinese inverter manufacturers.

“Low pricing caused by fiercely competitive local companies, highly complex business conditions and lengthy credit terms have either prevented them from succeeding in gaining a sizable share of the market, or forced them to concentrate on other regions,” IHS said.

Nevertheless, IHS said burgeoning demand would generate robust growth in the Chinese PV inverter market in coming years, with shipments forecast to reach 18GW by 2018.

Although utility-scale PV projects accounted for some 93% of inverter revenues last year, IHS said the distributed PV market would become increasingly important for inverter suppliers.

China has set a target of 8GW of distributed PV for 2014. IHS said that although a slow start to the year meant probably only 4GW of that would get built, distributed systems would become an increasingly important market for inverter suppliers, prompting a shift to lower power inverters.

“After several years of dramatic growth for huge ground-mount utility-scale projects in remote areas of the country, China has begun to place increased emphasis on the development of distributed rooftop solar in areas with high demand for electricity,” said Frank Xie, senior PV market analyst at IHS.

This growing demand for smaller inverters will lead to changes to the PV inverter supplier rankings in 2014 and 2015, Xie added.

“Although small string inverters will account for a growing share of the market, IHS forecasts that large central inverters will remain the mainstream for utility-scale PV systems in China due to their lower upfront cost and fewer connection points,” Xie concluded. “High power inverters are predicted to account for 80 percent of shipments to these systems in 2018.”

The changing dynamics of the international solar inverter market will be the subject of a webinar from IHS and PV Tech due to be held on 29 July 2014. For further details and to register, click here.

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