FRAMINGHAM, USA: IDC Energy Insights announced the availability of a new report, Vendor Assessment: Industry Short List for Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Inverters for the North American Market (Doc #EI223398, June 2010) and reveals that the utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) inverter market is on pace to continue its 60 percent annual growth in the North American market for at least the next three to five years.
According to the report, the dramatic growth of solar PV installations throughout Europe and Asia indicates that the North American utilities industry should be prepared to embrace the PV revolution in a demonstrably significant manner. This report evaluates 10 vendors of utility-scale inverter products for the North American market, including Advanced Energy (AE), General Electric (GE), Ingeteam, KACO, PV Powered, Satcon, Schneider Electric/Xantrex, Siemens, SMA, and Solectria.
As such rapid growth often spurs new entrants, IDC Energy Insights expects the already crowded field of vendors to multiply as new start-ups and other industrial giants recognize the opportunity. At the same time, a few market leaders will rise from the pack and start to increase their own market share as the segment matures.
"Thanks to dramatically decreasing production costs and price points, PV systems are more economical today than they ever have been," said Sam Jaffe, coauthor of the report and research manager for the Distributed Energy Strategies program at IDC Energy Insights. "The three fundamental legs that support a buying decision in the inverter field are cost, efficiency, and long-term reliability. The inverter is no longer a box of wires and parts bolted onto a PV array – it has become the heart and brains of the system."
Key findings of the study include:
* As the photovoltaic market grows, so does the solar inverter market, averaging 30-40% annual growth globally over the past five years. Among the drivers pushing the market for large-scale solar power are rate-payer pressure to increase access to renewable sources of energy, regulatory and policy requirements, government incentives, and declining PV module costs.
* Buyers have traditionally focused on the solar panel module as the differentiating piece of a PV installation. That is changing. Long dismissed as a "dumb box," the lowly inverter has transformed itself and is fast becoming the center of intelligence for a typical solar photovoltaic array.
* The inverter market is undergoing rapid evolution. Vendors have been investing heavily in R&D for several years and the fruits of those efforts are manifested in new models that boast higher efficiency, better reliability, and greater control.
"The report was designed to help buyers of large-scale inverters in North America identify and rate the most important product attributes to consider and the vendors who develop such products," continued Jaffe. "The study should be used as a tool to get started in the selection process."