Will the future of microinverters match the expectations of suppliers?

While microinverters have the potential to change the market, it is too early to tell what kind of impact they will have in the long run.

09/23/2011


If you listen to most suppliers of microinverters you will hear how their product will revolutionize the market. Most will say how the benefits of their technology clearly outweigh the traditional centralized approach. You may even hear how installers are amazed by this ‘revolutionary’ technology. Of course microinverters are not new, they have existed in Europe for well over a decade, but the marketing hype of an emerging disruptive technology is an effective one.

But will microinverters meet these suppliers’ bold expectations?

The simple answer is that it is probably too early to tell because markets rarely change overnight, but can sometimes swing rapidly in favour, or against certain technologies. Much optimism is coming from the US with Enphase capturing a large percentage of the residential market in a very short timeframe. However, there are certainly a number of factors which may limit this elsewhere including the conservatism of installers in Europe, accustomed to string inverters after many years of use. We expect that microinverter suppliers continue focusing on partnering with module suppliers which will provide a huge sales channel for microinverters and product differentiation for the module suppliers, but it seems that concerns over reliability and cost on the part of module suppliers is also hindering this. An inverter integrated into the module of course means the lifetime of both will have to match and although microinverters generally have a 20-25 years warranty, it is still unproven whether the amount of sensitive electronics in the field will be able to last that long.    

Profile photo of Tom Haddon, a PV Market Analyst at IMS Research. Courtesy: IMS ResearchIn my opinion, there is a bright future for microinverters as the simpler installation, greater yield and enhanced monitoring capabilities do present clear benefits to installers and system owners. However, there will most likely be no ‘winning’ technology for the inverter market and microinverters will simply carve out a niche in a growing market that will still generally favor the centralized approach.

However, I’m sure many microinverter companies will disagree with me; in fact one supplier is so confident of the success of their product that they wagered buying me an expensive meal in the restaurant of my choice if they ship more microinverters this year than we forecast for the total market. I’m fairly confident to say the least!



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me