IMS: Growth in China and Japan drives fragmentation of PV inverter market

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The supplier base for PV inverters continued to fragment in 2012, with the market share of the world’s 10 largest suppliers falling by 6%, according to a report by IMS Research.

Growing demand in Japan and China is cited as the main factor behind the figures, as these are countries where the traditionally largest inverter companies have a limited presence, IMS said.

SMA Solar Technology maintained its position at the top of IMS’ inverter rankings, but its share of the global market fell for the third year in a row to just over 25%, down from 40% in 2009. This was due to falling demand for its products in core markets, IMS said.

Overall the market share of the 10 largest PV inverter suppliers decreased from 62% in 2011 to 56% in 2012 in spite of the recent bankruptcies in the solar field, which would normally suggest consolidation.

Indeed a flurry of merger and acquisition activity last year, with Advanced Energy purchasing REFUsol and ABB acquiring Power-One, had little impact on the supplier rankings, the report found.

Sam Wilkinson, PV inverter research manager at IHS, IMS’ parent company, said: “The year 2012 saw many of the leading suppliers, including the three largest—SMA, Power-One and Kaco—lose market share, largely due to their limited presence in China and Japan, both of which grew rapidly in 2012.

“The majority of suppliers that gained share in 2012 were mid-size companies that are targeting growing segments of the market, in contrast to the market leaders whose businesses still heavily revolved around the stagnating core markets in Europe. The number of suppliers with a market share of more than 1% increased to 24 in 2012, with this growing group of suppliers accounting for three-quarters of market revenue.”

The suppliers with a strong presence in fast-growing markets and new technologies have gained remarkable market share and ranked at the top positions of the list.

US-based Advanced Energy and Enphase moved from eighth and eleventh respectively in 2011 up to fourth and sixth in 2012.

Japanese Omron is the first Asian supplier to be placed in the top 10.

Meanwhile, three suppliers fell out of the top 10 in 2012: Satcon, which has declared bankruptcy; Siemens, which has pulled out of the solar business altogether; and Sputnik Engineering, which IMS said continued to focus on the stalling European market.

The rise of the new emerging markets, particularly China and Japan, are expected to bring a rapid expansion of the local inverter suppliers and market segmentation on a global level.

Wilkinson said: “The end result is that these new markets are highly challenging for existing suppliers to penetrate as there is a deeply entrenched supplier base already in place. As the market continues to become more and more geographically diverse, the supplier base is likely to continue fragmenting.”

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