PV inverter market achieves record for 2011

IMS Research reports that the PV inverter market exceeded 26 GW in shipments for the first time ever thanks to surging sales in Asia and the Americas, which made up for sluggish sales in Europe.


The PV inverter market achieved a new record in 2011 with shipments exceeding 26 GW for the first time according to preliminary results from IMS Research. The research firm found that inverter shipments grew by more than 10% in 2011, despite the huge inventory overhang from the year before.

IMS Research’s preliminary Q4’11 report found that inverter shipments grew by up to 15% in 2011, with more than 8 GW shipped in the last quarter of the year. The report collected sales and shipment data from more than 40 of the largest manufacturers, accounting for more than 85% of the industry, and found major regional variations. “Germany remained the largest market, but saw shipments fall by more than a quarter in 2011. This was because of the very high inventory levels in the country at the start of the year as customers sat on high stocks of string inverters. Although many of these inverters were subsequently re-exported to other markets or returned to manufacturers, underlying demand was still not high enough and saw shipment sink considerably“, commented Senior Research Director Ash Sharma.

While the German marked performed poorly in 2011, this was more than offset by other markets. China performed extremely well following the country’s introduction of its FiT and saw shipments of nearly 3 GW, while the Americas market achieved shipments of close to 4 GW. The report also found that while both Italy and the UK drove high inverter shipment growth, this was not enough to prevent the European market from falling in 2011. In total IMS Research estimates shipments grew by up to 15% globally in 2011 but revenues were flat in US Dollar terms and slightly down in Euros.

The research firm estimates that inventory levels have returned to more “normal” levels, though significant regional variations are occurring. “Inventory levels have greatly reduced in Europe, with inverters being re-exported from Germany, especially those not compliant with the new low-voltage directive requirements. However, inventory levels are understood to have increased considerably in the USA and Asia. In the USA this was caused by customers stock-piling large volumes of inverters ahead of the expiration of the 1603 program. These inverters will of course now be installed in 2012,” explained Sharma.

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