An indispensable component of photovoltaic (PV) power systems, inverters typically convert direct current (DC) generated via PV modules from sunlight to alternating current (AC) for grid-connected systems. They are often used on boats, caravans and in remote areas where a mains supply is required and typical applications include: televisions, computers, electrical appliances, power tools.
The inverters for solar energy systems hold 99.4% of the renewable energy markets and the revenues are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.9% from 2004 to 2011.
"PV Inverters offer many advantages; first of all ease in implementation in urban environment for high consumption generation of electricity even in dim sunlight. They also have limited impact on surroundings. These are two key factors that are encouraging the market" explains Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Chandni Raj. "Moreover, they offer better control over power consumption and lower electricity bills."
Germany takes the lion's share of sales in Europe. It is a major producer and consumer of PV inverters and maintains a clear lead.
"The German trump card is not an excess of sunshine over other regions" says Chandni Raj. "It is the far-sighted vision and support of the German government, precisely the Renewable Energy Sources Act of 2000 according to which Germany has to generate an extra 9,500 GW from renewable sources by 2010. To encourage people, the government offered four times the market price for power generated from renewable energy for 20 years, thereby making it easier and faster to pay back investments. The Act that prioritised renewable energy relates to its purchase and compensation. Its amendment in 2004 boosted the industry. The feed-in tariffs (FITs) and incentives worked like a magic wand, accelerating renewable energy growth".
Germany is followed by Spain that is another PV inverter hotspot. "Spain has made amazing strides in the renewable energy-based inverters industry in a short span of time owing to the generous government subsidies" confirms Frost & Sullivan analyst Raj. Germany and Spain drive ahead the European market for PV inverters and boasts of some of the top-rung players in the industry. Italy, UK, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Netherlands have small albeit growing markets. Greece and Portugal are evolving to be highly-promising markets.
"Some countries are growing fast. Some others are showing interesting signs of expansion. The European market as a whole now sees soaring sales and spiralling growth" concludes Chandni Raj.
With a large number of players, innovations and new entrants, the market for PV inverters in Europe is exceedingly competitive. As a result, it is expected that inverter prices will come down and products with innovative features and greater efficiency will flood the marketplace.
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