Micro-inverters 'to break out of US'

Incumbent inverter giants, like SMA, are pressing aggressively into the micro-inverter space.

Incumbent inverter giants, like SMA, are pressing aggressively into the micro-inverter space.

The global market for PV micro-inverters will crack 500MW this year, and more than quadruple in size by 2017, according to market researcher IHS.

At present the micro-inverter market is dominated by US-based Enphase Energy, and largely confined to the US residential segment.

However, with major inverter players like SMA and Power-One pressing into the space, Enphase and others are expanding beyond their core markets, looking both at different regions and larger project sizes.

The UK, Australia and Japan are all seen as especially promising markets – Japan because of the huge scale of its residential PV sectors, and the UK and Australia because they are relatively new to PV, meaning that traditional string inverters are less entrenched.

By maximizing the output of each individual module in a PV system – albeit with a greater upfront cost – micro-inverters are seen as making the most economic sense for small projects, where each module really counts. But Enphase and others hope to expand the scope.

A 2.3MW rooftop system recently commissioned in Canada is the largest project ever to use Enphase kit.

By 2017, the commercial rooftop segment will account for one-third of the global micro-inverter market – up from just 9% last year, IHS estimates.

The global micro-inverter market will be worth $700m in 2017, IHS believes, up from about $250m this year.

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