IHS: record 10GW of inverter shipments expected in Q4 2013

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Solar inverter shipments for the fourth quarter of 2013 are forecast to exceed 10GW for the first time, according to a new report by research firm IHS.

IHS senior solar analyst Cormac Gilligan said the firm estimates that in Q3 2013, around 9.9GW of inverters were shipped, with the subsequent quarter’s shipments expected be over 10GW, the first time this figure has been surpassed in a single quarter.

However, IHS claims that due to highly competitive pricing, revenues from inverters for the second half of this year are expected to be 1% lower than the equivalent period of last year. Global prices declined by around 17% in 2013, totalling US$3.5 billion. In H2 2013, inverter shipments are expected to reach 20.8GW, a 21% increase on H2 2012.

Almost two thirds of demand for inverters – 64% – in the second half of this year came from just three countries, the US, China and Japan. As with previous years, China and the US saw shipments surge in the second half of the year.

The inverter market in Japan is forecast to reach over US$1.7 billion in value this year, driven mostly by the fact that the Japanese market commands the highest price globally for inverters. Local inverter suppliers Omron and Tabuchi are respectively the third and fourth largest suppliers by revenue in the third quarter of this year.

The third quarter also saw Sungrow become the fifth largest global supplier, in the process becoming the first Chinese inverter supplier to break into the top five, mostly due to domestic sales.

Worldwide, the top two suppliers were SMA and Power-One in Q3 2013, despite a decline in market share for both, compared to Q3 2012.

In terms of price, IHS noted a great deal of regional variation in the third quarter of this year, with average prices in Japan the highest globally at US$0.26 per Watt. The average price in China in the same period was US$0.06 per Watt.

In contrast to the strong shipment figures in the US, China and Japan, IHS forecasts that Europe, the Middle East and Africa will see a decrease in shipments in H2 2013 compared to the equivalent period of last year, falling by 31%. This is thought to be due to the continuing decline of European markets that include Germany and Italy.

According to IHS, 2014 will be a record year for inverter shipments. The firm expects to see an increase of 13% in inverter shipments next year, reaching an all-time high figure of 41GW. Revenues for 2013 totalled US$6.5 billion, with IHS predicting that 2014 revenues will stretch to US$6.8 billion.

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