IMS Researchs preliminary Q411 report, which was released on Monday found that inverter shipments grew by up to 15% in 2011, with more than 8 GW shipped in the last quarter of the year. The report, which is widely considered the most accurate indicator for the PV inverter industry, as it collects sales and shipment data from more than 40 of the largest manufacturers, accounting for more than 85% of the industry, found major regional variations. "Germany remained the largest market, but saw shipments fall by more than a quarter in 2011. This was because of the very high inventory levels in the country at the start of the year as customers sat on high stocks of string inverters. Although many of these inverters were subsequently re-exported to other markets or returned to manufacturers, underlying demand was still not high enough and saw shipment sink considerably", commented Senior Research Director Ash Sharma.
Whilst the German marked performed poorly in 2011, this was more than offset by other markets. China performed extremely well following the countrys introduction of its FiT and saw shipments of nearly 3 GW, whilst the Americas market achieved shipments of close to 4 GW. The report also found that whilst both Italy and the UK drove high inverter shipment growth, this was not enough to prevent the European market from falling in 2011. In total IMS Research estimates shipments grew by up to 15% globally in 2011 but revenues were flat in US Dollar terms and slightly down in Euros.
The research firm estimates that inventory levels have returned to more "normal" levels, though again significant regional variations are occurring. "Inventory levels have greatly reduced in Europe, with inverters being re-exported from Germany, especially those not compliant with the new low-voltage directive requirements. However, inventory levels are understood to have increased considerably in the USA and Asia. In the USA this was caused by customers stock-piling large volumes of inverters ahead of the expiration of the 1603 program. These inverters will of course now be installed in 2012," explained Sharma.
Quarterly analysis of the global PV inverter market is available from IMS Researchs "PV Inverter Supply & Demand Report". The company has been researching the PV inverter market for more than 5 years and its customers included more than 50 of the worlds largest manufacturers. For more details, please contact Stacey.May@imsresearch.com.