Analyst tips solar microinverter/power optimiser market to pass $1bn in 2018

September 19, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
According to market researchers IHS Technology, the global market for photovoltaic (PV) solar microinverters and power optimisers is forecast to more than triple to more than $1 billion in 2018, as both established and new regions increase their adoption of the emerging technology

Worldwide market revenue for PV solar microinverters and power optimisers, collectively called module-level power electronics (MLPE), will rise at a compound annual growth rate of 27% to total $1.1 billion in 2018, up from $329 million in 2013.

Microinverters carry out DC-AC conversion from a single solar module; as a power conversion architecture, microinverters can be more costly, but can in some cases harvest up to 25% more electricity than conventional string or central inverter devices, which convert power from multiple solar panels.

Power optimisers take a similar approach by performing the maximum power point tracking (MPPT) at a module level. However, a centralised inverter is still used for the DC-AC stage.

Lower microinverter and power optimiser prices will mean that MLPE will become more competitively priced compared to traditional inverters. This will make MLPE devices more appealing to new customers. As a result, total shipments will increase to 6.6 Gigawatts in 2018 as MLPE technology gains acceptance in new regions.

“Demand for MLPE has been driven by key markets such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia,” said Cormac Gilligan, senior analyst for solar inverters at IHS. “The market has grown to more than $300 million in size, despite continued price pressure due to new entrants into the business and decreasing PV system prices. Future demand for microinverters and power optimizers is expected to be spurred by continued acceptance in mature European PV markets, such as Germany and France. However, some of the major Asian markets, like Japan and China, will generate huge opportunity in the next few years as MLPE technology begins to penetrate these markets in larger volumes.”

The United States is the largest region for microinverter shipments, with residential systems representing the largest market for microinverters in the region. U.S.-based microinverter supplier Enphase has built market leadership serving this segment, although the penetration rate of microinverters in this segment is starting to saturate.