The first commercially successful micro inverter was launched by Enphase in 2008, which played a key role in popularising solar micro inverters globally. Currently, the global market comprises numerous domestic as well as international players supplying quality micro inverters. Modularity, safety, and maximum energy harvest will continue to drive the market at a considerable pace through 2020. Till recent years, the demand for micro inverters was highly restricted to North America. However, the market is gradually shifting toward commercial applications, and witnessing expansion in most of the developed as well as developing regions outside the U.S.
Adoption of solar micro inverters has gained momentum in the recent past, resulting in a growing market in developing nations, including Asia Pacific. Improved device features and enhanced efficiency are currently pushing the market in APAC, which is projected to continue in the near future as well, creating a lucrative market for micro inverters on a global level. The market is currently growing at a considerable pace. Persistent advances in R&D of solar micro inverters and substantial reduction in costs of micro inverters are estimated to boost the market during the forecast period. Compact size and high modularity of solar micro inverters make them ideal for residential applications. These two are the key drivers why micro inverters are currently gaining an impetus at a global level.
Unlike string inverters, micro inverters are tolerant to shade and do not let the power generation performance of individual solar panels drop, even if the area surrounding them is shady. This character is identified as one of the key factors positively influencing the demand for micro inverters when it comes to their efficiency. Contrary to centralised inverters, solar micro inverters are compact in size and do not need separate air cooling, resulting in lesser heat loss. This is another factor fuelling the demand for micro inverters in the market. Moreover, a broken string or centralised inverter faces halted performance merely due to a defect in one panel, whereas a defective panel in a micro inverter does not degrade the performance of the entire system because the system architecture allows individual panel monitoring. The maximum power is generated through MPPT. This has been an important driver in popularising micro inverters over the years.
However, relatively higher initial costs associated with installation and replacement of micro inverts may continue to create a major roadblock for solar micro inverters from becoming a widely commonplace device across Asia Pacific. Furthermore, installation of micro inverters requires the installation of another extra monitoring device – a communication bus, in addition to the basic common monitoring system. This in turn adds up to the final costs.
FMI’s research offers a six-year forecast, segmenting the APAC market for solar micro inverters based on the type, consumer, and application. Based on the type, the market is segmented into standalone solar micro inverter market and grid tied solar micro inverter market. On the basis of consumers, the solar micro inverter market in Asia Pacific is segmented as urban and rural. The urban segment dominates the market owing to rising awareness about alternate energy usage and growing population density in urban areas.
According to the application, the solar micro inverters market in APAC is segmented as residential and commercial. As micro inverters are economically lesser affordable compared to other traditional inverters, their residential applications find a lower market share in economically sensitive regions in Asia Pacific. However, the commercial solar micro inverter market application currently dominates the market. Although the U.S. is a leading market for solar micro inverters, adoption of solar micro inverters is expected to gain traction in Asia Pacific, especially in India, Japan, and Australia. Soaring fuel prices, burgeoning demand for power supply, and favourable government policies are currently driving the market in APAC.
India, owing to the availability of ample renewable energy sources, captures a prominent position in the APAC market for micro inverters. Growing awareness about benefits of micro inverters and widespread adoption of renewable energy sources for agriculture are expected to fuel the demand for solar micro inverters across India. The Union Budget of India for 2014-15 has clearly indicated emphasis on using solar for electricity generation. This is a key factor, anticipated to provide momentum to the market for micro inverters in and post-2016. Japan, despite representing a key residential market potential, has been facing limited micro inverter shipments. Stringent certification norms are anticipated to govern the Japanese market but domestic suppliers are expected to encounter growing opportunities.
Australia is a relatively emerging market for photovoltaics, which makes it an unestablished market for string and centralised inverters. The Australian market, since the past few years, has been reflecting growing demand for micro inverters and FMI’s research indicates string growth prospects for micro inverter suppliers. Recently, Enphase announced to commercially launch their AC battery first in Australia, later this year. ARENA Australia, through ample of renewable energy funds, will continue to provide an additional thrust to the market.
In addition, there are other expanding market, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines. Malaysia hosts several off-grid projects, whereas Indonesia is up for a thousand islands project. Philippines is also continually initiating multiple rural electrification projects. Utility companies located in all the three countries are currently prioritising rural electrification.
Key participants in the Asia Pacific market for solar micro inverters, include Enphase Energy, Solar Bridge Technologies, SolarEdge, Green Ray Solar, and Enecsys.
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