Microinverters and power optimizers, collectively called module-level power electronics (MLPEs), are currently one of the fastest growing market segments in the global solar power generation market. Although centralized or string inverters are still by far the most preferred and deployed choice of technology for rooftop solar panel systems worldwide, the promise of optimal performance and comparatively more power output (an estimated 25% more than conventional PV systems), especially when the PV systems are installed in unevenly shaded or complex regions (e.g. having two or more orientations), are increasing the popularity of MLPEs on a global front. Interestingly, over half of all the residential rooftop solar PV installations in the U.S. had some form of MPLE in 2014.
Solar microinverters and power optimizers offer similar benefits to solar PV systems but operate in different ways. Both systems are mounted inside solar panels and allow the PV cells to perform optimally when one or more panels in the PV system are shaded. The primary difference between the two is that microinverters directly convert the DC current produced by the solar panels into the AC current that can be utilized by household appliances, while power optimizers are used to tune the performance of the solar panel through maximum power point tracking (MPPT), which essentially is a way to condition the DC current generated by the PV cells before sending it to a central inverter.
Global Solar Microinverter and Power Optimizer Market: Key Trends and Opportunities
The substantial reduction in costs of microinverters and power optimizers and the continuous research and development efforts of manufacturers aimed at refining the technologies, are some of the key factors that will help the already flourishing market gain momentum over the report’s forecast period.
Meanwhile, the regulatory scenario pertaining to the safety of solar panel systems is shaping in a way that could change consumer’s perception of microinverters and power optimizers. The National Electric Code (NEC), the preeminent electrical installation code in the United States, has made it mandatory for solar panel arrays to have a rapid shutdown feature, with a switch to the feature near the solar PV setup, in its 2014 version.
Some analysts speculate that the Code will eventually make it mandatory for solar systems to include functionality of shutting off individual panels remotely with the help of a central switch. Some of the largest players in the microinverters and power optimizer industry have already started to monetize this opportunity by incorporating rapid shutdown features in their new product lines.
As the regulatory framework in other regional markets becomes more wary of the level of safety of solar power systems, similar regulations are projected to be instituted and proactive vendors will benefit from this changing regulatory environment.
Apart from these two opportunities, vendors can also benefit from the rising affordability of energy storage devices for solar power systems. Home batteries running on solar power have the potential of becoming the face of mainstream energy storage systems of the near future.
Global Solar Microinverter and Power Optimizer Market: Region-wise Outlook
Of the key regional markets for solar microinverters and power optimizers examined in the report, North America leads the global market, with a dominant share attributed to residential solar PV installations. However, the market may soon witness expansion in other regional markets such as Asia Pacific, as the dropping costs of microinverters and power optimizers seek to lure cost-sensitive regions with untapped growth opportunities.
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Global Solar Microinverter and Power Optimizer Market: Competitive Outlook
The market is presently dominated by companies such as SolarEdge and Enphase. However, the market’s competitive landscape is rapidly changing, with a rising number of solar PV manufacturers now developing products readily incorporated with microinverters and power optimizers. The market has also begun to see a favorable rise in investments from capital ventures and the entry of well-funded startups. This is rapidly changing the competitive landscape of the global solar microinverters and power optimizers market.
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