The Race for Solar
|Paul Buckley||July 27th 2011|
‘Smart’ photovoltaic inverter (PV) shipments are forecast to grow to 27 GW in 2015, accounting for almost 60 percent of the market compared to just 20 percent in 2010 according to the latest report from market analyst, IMS Research. The growth is being driven by utility concerns over grid imbalances, the growing proportion of photovoltaic inverters connected to the grid, as well as the need for energy storage to take advantage of self-consumption tariffs and further incorporate photovoltaic inverters into the ‘smart grid.’
According to the new IMS Research report entitled “The World Market for PV Inverters,” features such as reactive power, smart grid interaction and energy storage are transforming inverters from a simple power conversion unit into an essential component of grid infrastructure and will radically change the PV inverter market over the next five years. Tom Haddon a PV Research Analyst at IMS Research explained: “Utilities, especially in Europe, are increasingly pushing for inverters to assist in grid stabilization and conform to stricter technical requirements.”
Because of this, IMS Research forecasts that smart inverters will account for 80% of the EMEA market in 2015. Haddon commented: “Despite this, most inverter shipments will still not be “fully smart” and will only have reactive power capabilities, rather than full smart grid interaction or energy storage.”
The research found that Germany is leading the integration of PV into the grid with the newly implemented Low and Medium Voltage Directives, and other European countries are likely to follow suit. Due to this, ‘standard’ inverters are forecast to fall to just 42 percent of global shipments by 2015 as the directives are fully enforced. “Reactive power is an essential feature for inverters to carry if PV is to be a substantial part of the energy mix to provide local grid control which is why the German authorities have acted first to implement such codes,” added Haddon.
Another new trend identified in the report is inverters incorporating energy storage and IMS Research forecasts that close to 5 percent of all PV inverters shipped in 2015 will be equipped with storage such as batteries to help power loads continuously throughout the day. However, in order for this to happen these products will have to quickly reduce in cost, and improve in efficiency and reliability before gaining widespread acceptance.
Demand for PV inverters with energy storage will most likely be driven by incentives favouring ‘self-consumption’; however, current solutions, relying on lithium ion batteries, are currently too expensive and need to be reduced considerably before they will be deployed more widely,” concluded Haddon. The report from IMS Research shows a positive long-term outlook for the PV inverter industry with ‘smart inverters’ forming the majority by 2014 and the more mature markets located in Europe providing the bulk of demand.