IMS Research: falling prices to hit PV inverter supplier revenues in 2013

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Although 35GW of installed PV capacity has been predicted for 2013, inverter manufacturers are set for yet another challenging year with global revenues forecast to remain flat, a report by IMS Research forecasts.

According to its recently released updated quarterly report, World Market for PV Inverters, the top 10 PV inverter manufacturers are likely to suffer from declining inverter prices and, as a result, may turn to new markets such as Japan, China, India and the US to make up for the losses in the core markets of Italy and Germany.

Specifically, cuts in feed-in tariffs in mature inverter markets such as Germany and Italy are pushing manufacturers towards growth markets in Asia and the US. However, these new markets are not easily accessible and manufacturers may find it difficult to penetrate into these markets in order to gain market share.

In light of this, some of the challenges facing the inverter manufacturers in these new markets include certification standards, lower cost bases and local manufacturing requirements, as well as intense competition from local suppliers.

Several inverter manufacturers have already highlighted these challenging conditions. Just last week, German inverter manufacturer SMA announced it is expecting a drop in sales in 2013.

“Manufacturers that can successfully penetrate these growing PV markets and will stand to reap the benefits in the future as the market develops – but this won’t be easy,” explained Cormac Gilligan, PV market analyst at IMS Research. “Longer term horizons and sound strategic decisions will be needed in the future years as PV inverter market becomes more fragmented due to the diverse geographical spread as more PV markets develop, including South Africa and South America.”

IMS Research predicts that those manufacturers that survive the challenges of 2013 and are able to successfully enter these emerging markets, will see a return to double digit growth in the coming years as the PV market reaches greater maturity. However, the key inverter markets will be spread over a greater number of continents instead of being centred in Europe.

In 2012 IMS Research forecasts that Europe will account for 54% of global inverter shipments. This figure is predicted to fall to 40% by 2014 while the top 10 inverter manufacturers may see more Chinese and Japanese companies appearing on the list.

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