Inverter Makers Post Record Quarter, But Supply Woes Persist

by: SustainableBusiness

Global inverter shipments reached 3.1 gigawatts (GW) in 1Q10--the largest first quarter total for the industry, and the second highest quarterly result on record, according to new market figures.

Nonetheless, component shortage and inverter production problems that began in 4Q09 worsened in 1Q10, and quarter-to-quarter supply fell, according to IMS Research. As a result, demand will continue to outstrip supply in the near-term.

PV Research Director Ash Sharma commented: “Although 1Q10 presented some incredible results for inverter suppliers, with shipments up more than 300% year-on-year, sequentially shipments fell in all regions, including Germany.”

Total global inverter shipments were 3.7 GW in 4Q09, some 16% higher than 1Q10.

“In a ‘normal’ year this kind of seasonality would be expected; however, as strong demand has continued into early 2010 with the impending cut to Germany’s feed-in tariff, this sequential decline of inverter shipments contrasts the increasing shipments of PV modules and highlights that the supply of inverters may still be restraining growth of the PV industry”, Sharma added.

Production constraints still blight the PV inverter industry, with even market leader SMA coming up short; it recently indicated its production capacity would be limited to around 1.3 GW in the second quarter and supply constraints would not ease until July at the earliest. Despite the supply of components strongly affecting SMA’s abilities to raise its production output, it did in fact gain market share in 1Q10, illustrating that this shortage is also impacting its competitors’ business and the issue is affecting the entire inverter industry.

SatCon Technology Corporation (SATC) is another inverter company attempting to ride the strong wave of demand. The company completed a shift of manufacturing capacity from Canada to Ontario in 1Q10 and said it expects 2Q10 revenues to increase between $25 million and $28 million.

Mitsubishi Electric (OTCPK:MIELY) hopes to capture a share of the North American market when it releases a new 100-kW model in October 2010, followed by a 250-kW model in April 2011.

Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:AEIS) jumped into the inverter market in March through the acquisition of PV Powered, which makes inverters in Bend, Oregon. Advanced Energy said it expects to take the company's revenues from $21 million in 2009 to $40-$50 million in 2010.

Meanwhile, the market for microinverters continues to grow and companies like SolarBridge are attempting to catch up to Enphase Energy, which has the niche to itself.

Disclosure: No positions