Future trends in PV inverters and PV installation design

Yole Développement has released a new market & technology study dedicated to the photovoltaic inverters: PV Inverter Trends. Thisanalysis presents the existing PV inverter solutions and their mainparameters evolution (size, efficiency, cost, reliability). PV InverterTrends report allows to understand better the main technicalchallenges, current solutions and future trends regarding thoseparameters. Thismarket and technological study also includes an important topic, whichhas recently appeared as a key point for PV inverter business: theevolution of its environment.

Photovoltaic plants can havehighly diversified structures due to plenty of characteristics: localconfiguration, presence of sources of shadow, distance betweenbuildings, available area, and size of the installation, thus, one ofthe objectives of this report is to apprehend the evolution tendencyfor those architectures, and see the consequence on PV inverter systemsand on players’ strategy.

Inverter market forecasts accordingto our segmentation – residential, industrial and buildings, solarfarms – are shown and analyzed taking into account the 2009 crisis andimpact on PV industry.

Market trends
PVinverter business is following general PV market trends: the latterbeing driven by financial supports provided by governments anddevelopment of well-established companies.

Yole Développementhas estimated the 2008 PV inverter market a bit more than €2.5 billion,mainly driven by Spanish solar farm segment and German market. And YoleDéveloppement does not expect 2009 PV inverter business to overcomethis amount.

“Effectively, 2009 has faced the crisis and seenSpain cut out of its economical advantages, explained Brice Le Gouic,Market Analyst, Power Electronics & Compound Semiconductors at YoleDéveloppement. On the other hand, 2009 has also seen the birth of newcountries ready to implement PV as a new source of energy, meaning veryinteresting feed?in tariffs and loans. And PV inverter for residentialsegment is now entering in a standardization era.”

Newest PVinverter developments have shown interesting results at differentlevels: evolution of key characteristics, efficiency, cost,reliability, use of new materials (SiC, GaN), and adoption ofdisruptive technologies like micro?inverters — all those parametersimply an important variety of players strategy.

Those latestadvancements are having and will have consequent impacts on PVinverters themselves and on the environment into which they evolve:high-sized installation demand induces an increase of inverter size andcentralization, and new inverter solutions provide atypical plantarchitectures.

Indeed, besides centralization trend and theobjective to provide bigger inverters, micro-inverters appear as analternative solution, challenging every well?establishedcharacteristics of classical inverter industry.

Moreover, therecent acquisition of OKE by SMA is a revealing fact of micro?invertersintroduction on the market. As a consequence, those recent items have asignificant impact on classical PV inverter business, industry andplayers.

Nevertheless, the early stage of production adoptionof those technological products justifies Yole Développement’sestimation: “Micro?inverters technology will stay below 1 percent of2009 market, says Brice Le Gouic, from Yole Développement”.

Thosetechnological breakthrough and the high opportunity that PV invertermarket represents have a serious impact on players’ behaviors: most ofthem who used to consider the inverter as a final product, now sees aninterest in integrating new functionalities for a quick return oninvestment of the global installation:

• Monitoring
• Electrical protection
• Services like on?site maintenance, warranty, free software…

Thus,vertical integration of the PV supply chain keeps on evolving andcompanies are working closer on common objectives for an accurate andcomplete offer.

PV Inverter Trends: Catalogue price: Euros 3,690.




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