Based on new shipment data from market research firm IMS Research, solar inverter shipments in 2010 have already topped 15.4GW. This year has seen record shipment levels each quarter, reaching a massive 7.3GW in the third quarter, an increase of 50% from the previous quarter when shipments reached 5GW. However, a softening of demand in the German market could see shipments levels fall in the fourth quarter. In 2009, solar inverter shipments reached 3.7GW for the fourth quarter, a new record then.
“Again we are referring to a record quarter for inverter suppliers with the previous record of 5 GW of shipments in Q2’10 being beaten by almost 50% in Q3’10,” noted Tom Haddon, PV Analyst at IMS Research. “Q4 however is likely to be a much weaker quarter, as Germany, the largest market, continues to slow. Additionally, significant inventory now exists in the supply chain and a sharp correction seems inevitable.”
With the market slowing in Germany, the biggest contributors to the market’s huge increase were Italy and Asia. Other European markets also fared well and have grown by more than 300% year-on-year, according to IMS Research.
The EMEA region accounted for approximately 80% of inverter shipments in the third quarter, down from 90% in the previous quarter, noted the market research firm. This was partly driven by high growth of the Americas market, due to doubling in size from the same period last year.
Overall, all major regions recorded strong growth that was estimated to have generated more than US$2 billion in revenues for suppliers during the third quarter.
According to IMS Research, inverter factory-gate prices fell in the quarter due to the continuing shift towards larger inverters as utility-scale projects increased in key markets. These larger systems have an inherently lower price per Watt. This is the second quarter in a row this trend has been seen, according to the market research firm.
Market leader, SMA Solar is believed to have lost some market share in the quarter, due in part to its dominance of the residential market rather than the commercial and utility-scale markets, despite increased shipments as component shortages eased.
Satcon however, is believed to have increased its share in both the Americas and global market.