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PV Inverter Trends

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This publication has been discontinued on October 29, 2013.

Abstract

A comprehensive analysis on the first standardization steps in the PV inverter industry, evaluation of the market forecasts and positioning of the different business players

This updated version of Yole' s PV inverter trends report presents a comparison between what we had previously anticipated and what really happened; and also the new integration that will take place in an inverter.

Last year, we described the evolution of the 4 main parameters of an inverter (size, efficiency, cost and reliability). We will see in this report, that the inverter - as important as it is - is more than ever considered as the sub-system of a more important one: the PV plant.

We have also reviewed our position on some aspects, especially the micro-inverters, which we anticipated more promising than what has really appeared in 2010

TECHNICAL TRENDS

In addition, technolocy development is being investigated (advanced cooling system for large size inverters, gallium nitride-based devices for conversion, laminated Busbars for conduction,...).

This year we also included details on the integration of new functionalities, because it is what we have seen all along 2010.

Functionalities tend to improve the global return on investment (ROI) of the PV plant, as well as efficiency and reliability or reducing cost:

  • Anti-theft
  • On-site aging effect measurement
  • Voltage, current, temperature monitoring
  • Protection, in case of maintenance
  • Communication

We had anticipated that monitoring at cell-level would appear early 2011, but actually, it will not appear until 2 or 3 years from now. The main reason for this delay is that it does not rely on inverters-like manufacturers, but on cell manufacturers, who are not ready yet to provide such technical solutions.

At the plant level (PV inverter environment), architectures are slowly getting standardized, especially on the European market where feed-in tariffs (FIT), although less interesting, define a typical size of installation (3kW in France and Italy, about 5kW in Germany,...).

Last year, it was difficult to establish an exact architecture of the industrial buildings-based PV plants: this year, we have seen mainly two “types” of architectures:

  • Using up to 20kW inverters for installations up to 100kW
  • Using large inverters for more than 100kW

The main consequence is a decrease of 20 to 50kW power range from inverter manufacturers and newcomers on the market, who do not target this value as a priority.

COMPANIES MENTIONED IN THE REPORT

SMA, Fronius, SEPSA, Ingeteam, Enphase, Enecsys, Kaco, MasterVolt, Schneider Electric, Xantrex, SolarMax, SolarMagic, Siemens, PowerOne, AEG, Danfoss, GreenPower IC Lab, ISET, Fraunhoffer ISE, Mitsubishi Electric, ABB, Semikron, MicroSemi, Ixys, Vincotech, Infineon, PetraSolar, Sunsil, Yamaichi Electronics, Ferraz Shawmut, Socomec, PVPowered, Tepco, Comverge, SemiSouth, Siba, SolarBridge, Schneider Electric, Conergy, Sunpower, Firstsolar, PhotoWatt, Siliken, etc...

Table of Contents

Glossary

How is this report built?

  • 4 chapters
  • Impact of micro-inverter solution

DEFINITION OF TERMINOLOGY USED

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

PV INVERTER: THE SYSTEM

  • Introduction
  • Definition
  • Efficiency
  • Power electronics and SiC adoption
  • Cost
  • Reliability
  • Size
  • Monitoring Switching Device (MSD)
  • Integration of new functionalities:
    • Monitoring
    • Electric protection
    • Services linked to inverter business
    • Future trends
  • Conclusions

PV inverter environment

  • Introduction
  • Definition
  • Topologies:
    • Introduction
    • General overview
    • Market segmentation
    • Overview per market segment
    • Residential PV plants
    • Industrial and commercial building PV plants
    • Solar farms
    • Conclusions
  • Future trends:
    • Smart grid

PV INVERTER MARKET

  • Introduction
  • Assumptions
  • Worldwide market and shipments
  • Split by region:
    • Europe
    • America
    • Asia
    • Rest of World
  • Split by plant size:
    • Residential PV plants
    • Industrial and commercial building PV plants
    • Solar farms
  • Future trends

PV INVERTER BUSINESS PLAY ERS

  • Introduction
  • Company profiles:
    • SMA
    • Fronius
    • MasterVolt
    • SEPSA
    • Enphase
  • Penetration strategy status
  • Vertical integration
    • Initial status
    • Exceptions
  • Market share estimates
  • Worldwide player behavior

IMPACT OF MICRO-INVERTER TECHNOLOGY

  • Introduction
  • The system
  • PV inverter environment
  • Micro-inverter market
  • PV inverter business players

GENERAL CONCLUSION

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