Steady growth in the global solar market
With 2020 well and truly underway, the 2019 data for the solar industry is now available. Globally, the solar market grew by almost a fifth in 2019 (18% to be exact). Of the global inverter market, the Asia Pacific region makes up the largest portion (64%).
There are two identifiable factors responsible for this growth:
US Investment Tax Credit eligibility
2019 saw a huge influx of commercial solar hardware into the US. This was a direct result of an investment tax credit offered for not only commercial solar projects, but individual homeowners as well.
Under this incentive, 30% of the project cost of solar power and solar storage can be used to offset income tax.
Solar Inverter retrofits
We are beginning to see solar inverters, particularly in the residential space, reach the end of their warranted life. Solar panels typically last at least three times longer than inverters. As a result, many of the new inverter sales are for use on existing solar systems, something that will become ever more common around the world.
Inverter manufacturers are becoming conscious of this, and ease of decommissioning and connectivity are paramount.
Top Inverter Brand Ranking
Despite vast increases in the global (and local) solar inverter market, the top inverter manufacturers remain on their thrones. The top three inverter manufactures have retained their dominance for another year. There has been no change in their rankings since 2015:
#1 – Huawei
Chinese giant Huawei was responsible for 22% of all inverter shipments globally in 2019. Huawei specialises in string inverter technology and, despite its dominance, saw its market share slip by 4%.
This is largely due to Chinas 2018 decision to reduce public solar subsidies. Also of significance, is Huawei’s exit from the US solar market completely. This will no doubt contribute to further reduced sales, despite the size of the Asia-Pacific market.
#2 – Sungrow
Despite coming in second to Huawei, Sungrow is a specialist solar inverter manufacturer. Huawei, in contrast, doesn’t even bother to mention inverters on its main website!
Founded in 1997, Sungrow shipped over 100GW of inverters in 2019 for the first time. Their revenue is over $1.5 billion, annually.
Interestingly, Sungrow has secured 15% of the Australian residential solar market and 30% market share in Southeast Asia. Unlike Huawei, Sungrow looks set for continued dominance in the future inverter market.
#3 – SMA
This German inverter brand accounts for 8% of all inverter shipments globally. Despite their continued dominance and reputation for quality, they have suffered from relentless pricing pressures driven by the Chinese counterparts.
In Australia, it’s a one-horse race for SMA in the Utility market specifically. Reports suggest 95% of all Australian utility scale solar projects use SMA inverters. Unlike its gigantic Chinese competitors, almost a quarter of SMA total invertes shipments are supplied to Australia.
Other notable changes
Israel’s SolarEdge and Spain’s Ingeteam broke into the top 10 for the first time. This is almost certainly due to Huawei’s US exit, where they used to compete primarily in the commercial and utility space.
With smaller inverter companies steadily gaining ground, a strongly price-driven market combined with subsidy announcements; we can expect big moves in the industry over the next 12 months.