"Record results from Enphase, and the release of SMA's solar microinverter in Europe will help fuel over 2 GW of solar microinverter shipments in 2017" says Cormac Gilligan, Senior Analyst at IHS.

Leading solar microinverter supplier, Enphase Energy increased its share of global PV inverter revenues to approximately 4% in 2013. It is well positioned for further growth as its business moves close to profitability. --- Microinverter shipments to European markets are forecast to accelerate to reach over 200 MW in 2015, boosted by the release of SMA's Sunny Boy 240 in Germany. --- Global cumulative microinverter shipments are forecast to reach over 7 GW by 2017.

IHS Analysis

Microinverters continued to gain traction in 2013, with leading supplier Enphase contributing 335 MW in shipments and increasing its global market share to approximately 4% in revenue terms. The final quarter of 2013 also saw Enphase move closer to profitability. The company is yet to make a profit, but in Q4'13 it reduced its operating loss to less than 1%. With microinverter suppliers finally within reach of a profitable business model, and demand for their products set to continue growing, the future for microinverters is as positive as ever. Growing demand in its domestic and export markets will allow Enphase to grow its shipments once again in 2014, and increased volumes along with further cost improvements will mean that it is likely to achieve profitability. Enphase leads a pack of smaller pure-play microinverter start-up suppliers that has recently been joined by leading traditional suppliers, SMA and Power-One. All of these suppliers are likely to benefit from Enphase's success in proving the advantages and value propositions of microinverters.

Falling prices and rapid swings in demand to regions have made the last 18 months challenging for PV inverter manufacturers. The proven success of disruptive technologies will provide another unwelcome challenge for traditional PV inverter suppliers

Microinverters accounted for over 30% of inverter shipments to PV systems of under 100 KW in USA in 2013. They are firmly established in the USA market where their momentum is predicted to continue to build. IHS forecasts over 1 GW of annual microinverter shipments to USA in 2017. However, shipments have historically been limited outside USA. In Europe, limited volumes have been shipped to markets with strong residential segments, such as UK and France. However, in Germany, the world's largest and most mature PV market, microinverter solutions have struggled to gain traction, with the country's well developed and experienced network of installers unwilling to move away from using traditional string inverters.

This is set to change with the world's leading inverter supplier, SMA, releasing its new Sunny Boy 240 microinverter in Germany. SMA commands a market share of over 30% in Germany, and was placed firmly as the number-one brand for inverter suppliers in a recent survey carried out by IHS. Its brand strength and reputation for high quality products is likely to help overcome many of the concerns that European customers have held over microinverters and accelerate their adoption in Germany and the rest of Europe. IHS forecasts that despite the German market slowing in 2014, microinverter shipments will more than double in 2014 and reach almost 60 MW in 2015. The EMEA region is forecast to see over 500 MW of microinverter shipments in 2017.

With microinverters set to become more widely adopted, global shipments are forecast to increase by over 40% a year on average until 2017 – compared to just 13% for the total PV inverter market. By 2017, total cumulative microinverter shipments are forecast to exceed 7 GW.

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