According to a new report from IMS Research the market for microinverters and power optimizers has grown 500% in 2010 and is expected to continue to more than double on average every year to 2015, while reaching a value of US$1.3 billion. However, pricing is said to be an ongoing issue, despite expected economies of scale and greater competition, the market research firm expects microinverter average prices be close to 50% higher than those of conventional inverters by 2015, limiting their penetration from 1% in 2012 to only 6% of the market in 2015.
“Disruptive technologies such as microinverters and power optimizers claim to offer many benefits including greater yield, easier installation and improved safety and monitoring; but currently their higher prices and relative immaturity in the marketplace has restricted uptake, especially in non-residential installations,” commented, Tom Haddon, PV Market Analyst at IMS Research and co-author of the report. “Uptake of microinverters in particular has been very slow outside of North America with installers in Europe still more confident in using string inverters.”
Major PV module manufacturers such as Suntech have already started to collaborate with at least four firms in the energy harvesting space, such as Tigo Energy, National Semiconductor, Azuray Technologies, and Enphase Energy, a trend IMS believes will help grow the market.
IMS noted that it is projecting that 45% of microinverters and 40% of power optimizers will be shipped in combination with a module in 2015.
“By partnering with module suppliers, microinverter and power optimizer suppliers gain access to a huge customer base and an established sales channel, present a better price proposition to customers, and also offer product differentiation to module suppliers.” added Haddon.
In a highly, price sensitive market BOS cost reductions or performance enhancements are difficult to translate into sales, especially after the collapse of Solyndra, which failed to drive prices down to competitive levels, though installation costs were seen as significantly lower than those of conventional rigid modules.