Enphase and the Evolution of Solar Microinverters

The big U.S. solar show, Solar Power International is coming up next month (Oct 11-14 in Los Angeles) and there’s going to be a lot of announcements on the solar front.  The PV inverter marketis hot and well-funded Enphase Energy, the microinverter manufacturer, is starting its volley with the announcement of a fourth-generation integrated microinverter.

I spoke with Enphase co-founder Raghu Belur and newly-hired ChiefMarketing Officer Bill Rossi about the new product, some upcomingannouncements and the state of the company.

Firstly, Enphase has shipped more than 400,000 microinverters.  Thecompany is no longer a classic startup but rather a company with adifferent set of problems challenges.  That is – scaling up and maintaining growth with a focuson manufacturing, sales and execution.  Which explains the Bill Rossihire and his Cisco growth pedigree.  A VC colleague recently calledEnphase CEO Paul Nahi, "an execution machine."

The new Enphase product is a next-generation microinverter that bumps the CEC efficiency from 95 percent to 96 percent in a smaller package andreduces the component count in the Bill of Materials by integrating some IC functions.

But the more important change is the emergence of a new product –the AC module or ACM.  Until now, the microinverter has been mounted onthe module racking hardware.  But module manufacturer and solarintegrator confidence in microinverter architecture has now allowed thethe microinverter to migrate to where the junction box used to be. Module manufacturers and installers had to be convinced thatmicroinverter performance and long-term reliability was unimpeachable.

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