Largest Solar Inverter Companies

Given below is the list of top 10 Biggest Solar Inverter Companies In The World. These companies accounted for almost 80% of the total global shipments in the first half of 2016. The top five of these players constituted more than 50% of the total shipments.

According to the Senior Analyst in GTM Research, there hasn’t been such a disproportionate market since 2010. Earlier the demand was concentrated in Europe, but later the Chinese emerged as the dominant players in the global solar panel industry, with almost 7 out of the top 10 solar panel producers being from China.

Ranking in the top positions are Huawei and Sungrow. Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant has made huge progress in the solar inverter market, becoming the No.1 player in the global market. Other Chinese companies such as Sungrow have also used their massive domestic market to become large global players. These two companies now lead the global shipments ahead of SMA Solar, Wuxi Sineg and TIMEIC. China accounted for approximately 90% of each company’s shipments.

central-inverter

The solar inverter industry is still in a maturing stage and prices still remain a pressure. However, solar inverter prices have fallen by 10% in the last six months.

China, US and Japan will be the largest inverter markets and the inverter market is predicted to grow at 14% CAGR between 2017 and 2021. Demand will also be expected to increase in new markets of Middle East and South East Asia.

10 Biggest Solar Inverter Companies In The World In 2017

1.Huawei

2.Sungrow

3.SMA Solar

4.Sineg

5.TIMEIC

6.ABB

7.TBEA

8.Schneider Electric

9.Power Electronics

10.SolarEdge

Also read our list of Best Solar Inverters for Residential Rooftops in India

Indian Lighthouses to run on Solar power

India has become a trailblazer of sorts in the use of solar energy and the country has the lowest project costs for solar energy in the world (even lower than China). It was the only country to announce a policy for building solar panel projects on canals and is also the main creator of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The new government under PM Modi has made solar energy the main focus of its energy policy with a hugely ambitious target of achieving 100 GW by 2022, up from just 8 GW now. The government has directed all major ministries and government owned companies to increase the usage of solar power for all major energy needs.

The Ministry of Shipping has been increasing solar energy by making solar projects mandatory for major ports in the country all of whom are in the process of building multi MW solar and wind projects to provide power to port facilities. Another big initiative the the MoS has taken is to power all the lighthouses in the country using solar panel systems. Almost 85% of the the 200 lighthouses in the country are already being powered by solar power and by December 2016 , 100% target should be achieved by the country. This is another feather in the cap and not a mean achievement given that India has one of the longest coastlines in the world.

kovalam-beach-and-light-house

Also read Indian Transport to get Solar Power

 

Solar power makes a lot of sense for lighthouses which are generally located in remote coastal locations without access to the grid. They are generally powered by diesel generators which are not only polluting but also much more costly. It is estimated that diesel power costs almost INR 15-20/kWh compared to the INR 12-13 for solar plus storage solutions in the market today.

Lighthouses are a low hanging fruit along with other off grid users of electricity such as telecom towers which burn billions of gallons of expensive fossil fuel every year. They not only increase the costs but also have implications on India’s energy security and contribute greatly to global warming. India needs to seriously increase the usage of solar energy in off grid solutions.

Softbank to set up Solar manufacturing in India

Softbank the Japanese technology giant, which made a mountain of money by buying a stake in Alibaba at its inception is looking to make another major diversification. The company which has moved from being a telecom provider and angel investor into semiconductor design is planning another big business entry. It plans to produce solar panels in India to serve its solar development arm, which it formed in India as a JV with Foxconn and Bharti group. Why Softbank moved into the heavily commoditized and competitive solar development in India is a mystery to me. The company has a lofty target of installing 10 GW of solar energy in India, though it has achieved only 350 MW till date after 2 years of huffing and puffing with two other major partners. Solar development is not lucrative, given the low entry barriers and huge amount of competition.

Also read Another Foreign Company looks to invest in the huge and growing Solar Market in India

Now the company wants to go into solar panel production which makes me think that their strategic brass has gone completely bonders. Thousands of western companies have gone bankrupt in this business, as heavily subsidized giant Chinese companies have almost taken the price of solar panels near zero. Solar panel prices have gone down by almost 90% over the last 5 years, leading to billions of dollars in writedowns and bankruptcies of multi billion dollar companies. It is a graveyard but still Softbank wants to go and dig its own plot.

Maybe its another announcement without any basis, as the company may be trying to score brownie points with the Indian government which is looking to promote its “Made in India” policy, or the company may be trying it hand at another part of the solar supply chain given that it has not found much success in solar development. Acme, Adani, Tata, Azure Power and others have much bigger pipelines with Softbank being a very distant ran.

“SoftBank’s strategy for India includes solar panel manufacturing,” Manoj Kohli, executive chairman of SB Energy said in an interview in New Delhi. He ruled out making the panels through the company’s existing joint venture, formed last year with Foxconn Technology Group and Bharti Enterprises Pvt. to generate about 20 gigawatts of solar power.

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Chinese Solar Inverters

The Chinese solar panel producers have become dominant players in the global solar panel industry, with almost 7 out of the top 10 solar panel Solar Inverterproducers being from China. The solar inverter space had not seen inroads being made by the Chinese companies, as they were dominated by European companies such as ABB, SMA Solar, Kaco and others, because of the higher technology intensity of solar inverters as compared to solar panels.

However, even this bastion of the Europeans have been destroyed by the Chinese companies who have used their traditional weapon of super cheap costs of exterminating their global competitors. Huawei the Chinese telecom giant has made huge progress in the solar inverter market, becoming the No.1 player in the global market. The Chinese companies such as TBEA, Sungrow and others have used their massive domestic market to become large global players.

Read more about Solar Inverters here.

Now they are using their scale to enter new foreign markets which are still dominated by the Europeans and Americans. Like in solar panels, Chinese solar inverter makers have drastically reduced the prices of solar inverters. While solar inverters in 2011 used to sell for 30-40 cents/watt, now they sell for as low as 5 cents/watt.

Working on low margins and huge scale, the Chinese have vanquished the global large players like SMA, who used to make billions of dollars from solar inverter sales sold at high margins. The 3 phase and string inverter segments have been easy pickings for the Chinese solar inverter companies. Only some inverter companies such as Solaredge have managed to escape the low cost low margin trap set up by the Chinese. SMA Solar is trying to diversify into the energy storage market in order to move away from the commodity industry that normal solar inverters have become.

Top 10 Solar Inverter Companies globally

Approximately 50% of the top 10 solar inverter rankings are now taken up by the Chinese:

1 Huawei
2 Sungrow
3 SMA Solar
4 ABB
5 TBEA Sunoasis
6 TMEIC
7 Wuxi Sineng
8 Schneider Electric
9 Power Electronics
10 SolarEdge

Source: IHS

Unemployment in India

India’s employment situation is nothing less than a massive crisis situation, with millions of workers joining the workforce every year without even 10% of the required jobs being created. The Indian reforms stated in 1991 did not lead to major employment generation, as most of the value creation was done through capital intensive means. The problems in labor laws has been a major reason for the capital intensive path that the Indian industry has taken till now. It has also led to the contract model, where most organizations use short term contracts to hire people.

This has led to low wages and job insecurity, while organized workers have become a privileged class doing less work for much higher wages. This problem unemploymentis most acutely seen in the government sector, which has high wages and a situation of a job for life. This has led to millions of applications being seen for a paltry few hundred jobs of sweepers.

India’s employment situation is so bad that I think nothing can solve this crisis, with most workers fated to lead a low wage destitute life. In the first decade of the 21st century, large numbers of jobs were created as there was a massive boom in some sectors such as telecom, aviation, retail etc. However, the massively corrupt regime of the Congress in 2009 led to a sharp stop in job creation, as industry stopped growing. There were no reforms as large scale plundering took place, with a sizable growth of the black economy.

Government Measures to solve unemployment problem in India

Though the new Indian government has tried to solve this problem through new initiative such as Make in India, Skill India etc., the problem is too huge to be solved. The main cause is India’s population, which is the world’s second largest and soon to become the world’s largest. India’s resources in terms of land, water etc. is too small to cater to the demands of a billion plus population.

While India has shown huge growth in services, the employment situation has not improved too much. Even India’s IT industry which has been the main engine behind the development of a strong Indian middle class is getting saturated. The IT industry is steadily reducing new hires, as automation and new technologies reduce the requirement of large numbers of engineers. In the coming years, a large number of even existing IT professionals may be made redundant, as new technologies such as Big Data, Analytics and Social Media become more dominant.

Industry is also not expected to create too many jobs, given that robotics and automation have sharply reduced the number of workers required in factories. Too much global capacity already exists for India to develop large scale export industries. New sectors are not growing in India, to utilize the millions of educated and semi-skilled workers joining the ranks of the unemployed.

India needs a major war effort to tackle the growing employment crisis, which is already manifesting itself in the form of social unrest such as the Jat and Patel agitation. Unemployed youth can create a huge social problem as can be seen in many parts of the country.

E-Commerce sector in India

E-Commerce which has been a major new growth sector employing many people in logistics, IT and customer services is facing its own hour of crisis. Funding has sharply reduced to this cash burning sector, leading most firms to tighten their belts. Major employers such as Snapdeal and Flipkart have been laying off thousands of people, while some of the smaller players such as TinyOwl are shutting operations. News of new hires being left in limbo has become common, even as reputed companies such as Grofers fail to honor their word. Being left in the lurch by the e-commerce companies has become a common theme, leading to an exodus of talent from this sector.

 The number of startups that recruited from the institute during the latest placements season more than doubled to 125 from 56 a year ago. But prominent startups including Grofers, TinyOwl, Ola and Snapdeal that had registered for placements hiring at the institute dropped out.

Grofers, however, visited other campuses for placements.

“We visited more than 80 engineering and management campuses this year across India to offer various profiles at Grofers in design, marketing”

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Isn’t IEA’s Fossil Fuel projections too optimistic

International Energy Agency (IEA) is the world’s premier source of global energy trends and forecasts. Its predictions and estimates are universally used by policy makers, company CEOs and investors to make plans regarding the future trajectory of energy demand and prices. However the institute has been failing to live up to its billings in the last 2-3 years making overly optimistic forecasts for fossil fuels, which are falling behind renewable energy with the costs of solar and wind declining and concerns over climate change growing. Solar energy costs have fallen drastically in the last couple of years, making it competitive with coal and gas .With improving technology solar energy is going to become much cheaper than coal and gas in most parts of the world by 2020. This coupled with its green character means that no new coal or gas plants may be installed after 7-8 years. However IEA is saying that India will keep growing its coal imports, even after solar becomes much cheaper. This dumb forecast is going to cost billions of dollars for companies and investors who make bets based on IEA forecasts.

Note IEA has been criticized by various analysts for making these foolish forecasts making unreasonable assumptions. While IEA acknowledges that solar and wind will become cheaper than fossil fuels in the future, it is way too far ahead in terms of years. It does not take an Einstein to say that solar and wind will be cheaper much earlier than what IEA is saying (2025 for wind and 2030 for solar energy).

Countries which depend on coal and gas exports will face a tough time just as oil exporters are facing currently. Australia which is planning to build massive coal mines and infrastructure may face massive wealth destruction as many assets become stranded. Global concerns over climate change are making people wary of fossil fuels especially coal. Prices have crashed to below $40/ton for coal and I don’t think it will recover significantly. The Aussies are already worried as India’s energy minister plans to completely stop thermal coal imports, by raising domestic production. The Aussies will have no place to ship their coal, as China is reducing its coal demand and the West is shutting the thermal power plants altogether.

IEA is still run by lobbies which are funded by the fossil fuel industry that prevents it from writing the truth that fossil fuels are in terminal decline now. The solar technology revolution has completely changed the energy paradigm and all fossil fuels will get decimated over time. Even crude oil which does not compete directly with solar energy will face pressure, as the penetration of EV technologies grows in the transport sector.

The IEA is forecasting the world’s seaborne thermal coal market will reach 1.06 billion tonnes by 2020, a reduction from its previous forecast, but still above many other analysts. It assumes India will increase its thermal coal imports to 204 million tonnes by the end of the decade, representing an increase of 73 million tonnes from 2014.

India’s Minister for Energy, Piyush Goyal?, has said India should be able to end thermal coal imports by 2017.

A win by US-based solar major SunEdison of a $US500 million, 500-megawatt solar auction in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in November shocked the market with its pricing of 4.63 rupees per kilowatt-hour (US7.1¢/kWh), 10 per cent below the previous record low set three months earlier.

That pricing was regarded by many as irrational and as an aggressive chase for market share in the fast-growing market, until the award of a 350 MW contract in December to a consortium led by Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank at the same price.

The contracts should act as a warning to Australian coal exporters not to rely on IEA forecasts, Mr Buckley said.

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