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Inverters for Renewable Energy Applications: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

The inverter industry is entering a very dynamic point in its history. It is undergoing an intense period of technological innovation, but also contention. Inverters are increasingly a focal point for investors, regulators, and project developers looking to find a balance between functionality, reliability, and safety. The increasing number of technical standards and requirements for connecting to the AC electric grid are formidable, but companies are, for the most part, rising to the challenge.

Incumbent inverter manufacturers SMA, Fronius, Satcon, Power-One, KACO new energy, and Ingeteam have the advantage of size and market reach. However, disruptive technological innovation by well-funded startups and early-stage companies is rapidly changing the face of the industry. Many see microinverter technology as the future of distributed solar photovoltaics (PV), while others see it as the next step in a larger transition to fully-integrated AC modules. Against this backdrop of rapid technological change and a dynamic competitive landscape, the global inverter market will grow significantly over the next several years.

This Pike Research report analyzes the global market opportunity for inverters in four key industry sectors: solar PV, stationary fuel cells, small wind, and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) enabled electric vehicles. The report explores the key market drivers in each sector, along with an examination of technology issues and the evolving competitive landscape. Global market forecasts for inverter revenue and capacity are provided through 2017, segmented by application area and world region.

Key Questions Addressed:

  • What is the current status of the inverter industry for renewable energy applications?
  • What will be the impact of microinverters on the solar PV market during the next 5 years?
  • Who are the leading companies driving inverter technology innovation?
  • Will Western inverter manufacturers share the same unfortunate fate as Western solar module manufacturers?
  • What new demands are being placed on inverter manufacturers in order to successfully integrate renewables into the grid at higher penetration levels?

Who needs this report?

  • Inverter manufacturers and technology developers
  • Power electronics companies
  • Solar energy companies
  • Engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firms
  • Utilities
  • Government agencies
  • Investor community

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

  • 1.1 Introduction to Inverters for Renewable Energy Applications
  • 1.2 Inverter Industry Overview
  • 1.3 Market Forecast: Inverters for Renewable Energy Applications

2. Market Issues

  • 2.1 Introduction to Inverters for Renewable Energy Applications
  • 2.2 Inverter Industry Overview
  • 2.3 Defining the Market for Inverters
  • 2.4 Inverters Are the Gateway Between the Generating Asset and the Grid
  • 2.5 Status of the Inverter Market for Renewable Energy Applications in 2011
  • 2.6 Key Inverter Market Trends
    • 2.6.1 Solar PV Reaching Grid Parity
    • 2.6.2 New Inverter Technologies Drive Growth in Residential Markets
    • 2.6.3 Inverters Key to Project Bankability
    • 2.6.4 Can Inverter Companies Stay Profitable amid Declining Prices and Increasing Shipments?
    • 2.6.5 Service Contracts Generate New Revenue Streams for Inverter Manufacturers
    • 2.6.6 Archaic Grid Protocols Being Revised
    • 2.6.7 The Evolution of Smart Inverters
    • 2.6.8 Inverters Can Provide Ancillary Services for the Electric Grid
  • 2.7 Market Overview and Drivers of Renewable Energy Industries: Solar PV, Small Wind, Stationary Fuel Cells, and Selected V2G-Enabled EVs
    • 2.7.1 Market Overview of Solar PV
      • 2.7.1.1 Market Drivers for Solar PV Inverters
        • 2.7.1.1.1. Reduced Module Costs
        • 2.7.1.1.2. Renewable Energy Targets, Solar Carve-Outs, and Feed-in Tariffs
        • 2.7.1.1.3. Feed-in Tariffs
        • 2.7.1.1.4. Solar PV Lease and Power Purchase Agreements
    • 2.7.2 Market Overview of Small Wind
      • 2.7.2.1 Market Drivers for Small Wind Inverters
    • 2.7.3 Market Overview of Stationary Fuel Cells
      • 2.7.3.1 Market Drivers for Stationary Fuel Cell Inverters
    • 2.7.4 Market Overview of V2G-Enabled EVs
      • 2.7.4.1 Market Drivers for V2G-Enabled EV Inverters
  • 2.8 Inverters and Smart Grid Integration: Regulations, Standards, and Implementation Issues
    • 2.8.1 UL 1741 Safety Standard
    • 2.8.2 International Electrotechnical Commission 62109-2
    • 2.8.3 IEEE Islanding and Storage Standards
    • 2.8.4 National Electrical Code 2014
    • 2.8.5 Steady-State Voltage Regulation
    • 2.8.6 Voltage Flicker
    • 2.8.7 Harmonics
    • 2.8.8 Unintentional Islanding

3. Technology Issues

  • 3.1 Technology Overview
  • 3.2 Solar PV Inverters
    • 3.2.1 Optimizing Energy Harvest: Maximum Power Point Tracking and Bypass Diodes
    • 3.2.2 Types of Solar PV Inverters
      • 3.2.2.1 String Inverters
      • 3.2.2.2 Central Inverters
      • 3.2.2.3 Module-Level Power Management: Microinverters, AC Modules, and DC Optimizers
        • 3.2.2.3.1. Microinverters
        • 3.2.2.3.2. AC Panels
        • 3.2.2.3.3. DC Optimizers
      • 3.2.2.4 Inverter Cost Analysis: Inverter as Part of Overall Solar PV System Cost
  • 3.3 Small Wind Inverters
  • 3.4 Stationary Fuel Cell Inverters
  • 3.5 V2G-Enabled EV Inverters
    • 3.5.1 Bi-Directional Power Delivery for Plug-in EVs
  • 3.6 Comparing Inverter Price Reduction Paths
  • 3.7 Key Inverter and Enabling Technology Trends
    • 3.7.1 Transformerless Inverters
    • 3.7.2 Smart Inverters and Microgrids
    • 3.7.3 Smart Islanding Inverters
      • 3.7.3.1 Smart Islanding Inverter Commercial Time Horizon
  • 3.8 Pros and Cons of Smart Inverters

4. Key Industry Players

  • 4.1 Overview
  • 4.2 Established Industry Players
    • 4.2.1 SMA Solar Technology, AG
      • 4.2.1.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.2.2 Power-One
      • 4.2.2.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.2.3 KACO new energy, Inc.
      • 4.2.3.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.2.4 REFUsol GmbH
      • 4.2.4.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.2.5 Siemens AG
      • 4.2.5.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.2.6 Elettronica Santerno SPA
      • 4.2.6.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.2.7 Danfoss Solar Inverters
      • 4.2.7.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.2.8 ABB
      • 4.2.8.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.2.9 Sungrow Power Supply Co., Ltd.
      • 4.2.9.1 Keys to Success
  • 4.3 Module-Level Panel Management Companies
    • 4.3.1 Enphase Energy
      • 4.3.1.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.3.2 Tigo Energy
      • 4.3.2.1 Keys to Success
    • 4.3.3 eIQ Energy
      • 4.3.3.1 Keys to Success
  • 4.4 Smart Inverter Innovators to Watch
    • 4.4.1 Eaton
    • 4.4.2 Princeton Power Systems
    • 4.4.3 Petra Solar
    • 4.4.4 Xtreme Power
  • 4.5 DOE SunShot Awardees: Smart Inverter and Related Balance of System Solar PV Costs

5. Market Forecasts

  • 5.1 Vendor-Supplied Inverters for Renewable Energy Applications Forecast
  • 5.2 Solar PV Inverter Forecast
  • 5.3 Small Wind Inverter Forecast
  • 5.4 Stationary Fuel Cell Inverter Forecast
  • 5.5 V2G-Enabled EV Inverter Forecast

6. Company Directory

7. Acronym and Abbreviation List

8. Table of Contents

9. Table of Charts and Figures

10. Scope of Study, Sources and Methodology, Notes

List of Charts and Figures

  • Vendor-Supplied Inverter Capacity, Selected Renewable Energy Technologies, by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2012-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Solar PV Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2009-2011
  • Solar PV Inverter Installations by Market Segment and Region, Selected Markets: 2011
  • Vendor-Supplied Stationary Fuel Cell Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2011
  • Vendor-Supplied Small Wind Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2009-2011
  • Vendor-Supplied V2G-Enabled Vehicle Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2011
  • Installed Solar PV Inverter Capacity by Country, World Markets: 2006-2012
  • Solar PV Module, Non-Module, and Inverter Costs, World Markets: 2006-2017
  • Inverter Percentage of Total PV System Cost, World Markets: 2006-2017
  • Inverter Percentage of Total Small Wind System Cost, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Inverter Percentage of Total Fuel Cell System Cost, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Inverter Percentage of Total V2G Enabling System Cost, Light Duty Trucks, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Inverter Percentage of Total V2G Enabling System Cost, MD/HD PEVs, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Inverter Price Ranges, Renewable Energy Applications, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Inverter Capacity and Revenue, Selected Renewable Energy Technologies, by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2012-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Solar PV Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2012-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Small Wind Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2012-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Fuel Cell Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2012-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied V2G-Enabled Vehicle Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2012-2017
  • Distributed Energy Resource and Power Electronics Block Diagram
  • Solar PV Inverter Price Declines, Market Leaders: 2009-2011
  • U.S. DOE SunShot Initiative: PV Performance and Operations & Maintenance Costs, Real and Targeted
  • Germany Utility Meets More Than 100% of Load with Solar & Wind on May 8, 2011
  • Smart Inverter Functionality
  • Low-Voltage Ride through Diagram
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards by U.S. State
  • Grid-Tied PV Inverter Diagram
  • Expected Shading Impact on Solar PV System Output, Sampling of California PV Systems
  • I-V Curve of a Crystalline Solar Cell
  • Bypass Diode Diagram
  • Single String Inverter Diagram
  • Central Inverter Diagram
  • Cost Structure for Utility Solar PV Inverters
  • System Cost of an 80 MW PV Power Plant in Europe
  • Module-Level Power Management
  • Penetration Rate of Microinverters and DC Optimizers by Market Segment, World Markets: 2009-2015
  • Cost Comparison of Residential Solar PV Installation Costs, United States and Germany: 2011
  • Cost Breakdown of PV Inverters across the Value Chain
  • Levelized Cost Breakdown of Conventional Ground Mounted PV System in the United States
  • Centralized Power versus Microgrid Diagrams
  • Block Diagram for Smart Inverter
  • Princeton Power Systems' DR Inverter

List of Tables

  • Price Summary for Small Wind Feed-in Tariffs, World Markets: 2012
  • U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Awards
  • Inverter Price Ranges, Renewable Energy Applications, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Estimated Solar PV Inverter Installations by Market Segment and Region, Selected Markets: 2011
  • Solar PV Module, Non-Module, and Inverter Costs, World Markets: 2006-2017
  • Small Wind System Vendor-Supplied Inverter Installed Capacity, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Small Wind System Inverter and Non-Inverter Costs, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Stationary Fuel Cell Inverter Installed Capacity by Application, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Stationary Fuel Cell Inverter Units by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Stationary Fuel Cell System Inverter and Non-Inverter Costs, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Inverter Investment, V2G-Enabled Light Duty PEVs by Region, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Inverter Installed Capacity, V2G-Enabled Light Duty PEVs by Region, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Inverter Capacity, V2G-Enabled MD/HD PEV Truck (Class 3-8) Sales, by Region, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Inverter Investment, V2G-Enabled MD/HD Trucks (Class 3-8) by Region, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • V2G System Inverter and Non-Inverter Costs, Light Duty Trucks, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • V2G System Inverter and Non-Inverter Costs, MD/HD PEVs, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Inverter Revenue by Industry, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Inverter Installed Capacity by Industry, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Market Share for Vendor-Supplied Inverter Installed Capacity by Industry, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Solar PV Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Stationary Fuel Cell Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Small Wind Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2009-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied V2G-Enabled Vehicle Inverter Capacity by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Vendor-Supplied Inverter Capacity, Renewable Energy Applications, by Region of Adoption, World Markets: 2011-2017
  • Installed Solar PV Inverter Capacity by Country, World Markets: 2006-2017
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