Global energy demand has steadily increased over the last decade; with new forms of energy sources being constantly explored to make provision for future demand. As the conventional resources are getting depleted, renewable resources are being used extensively. Photovoltaic (PV) cells are a renewable energy source that convert sunlight into electrical current, without any form of thermal or mechanical interlink. Photovoltaic (PV) inverter, also known as solar inverter converts variable DC into alternating current frequency. The inverter industry has been undergoing an intense period of technical innovation. Inverters are a focal point for project developers, regulators and investors. Photovoltaic power supplied to the utility grid has gained visibility as global power demand is increasing. However, not many PV systems have been placed into the grid due to relatively high cost as compared to conventional energy sources such as coal, gas, oil, wind, nuclear and hydropower. Solid state inverters are considered to be the enabling technology for putting PV systems into the grid. With advancements in inverter technology promising more sophisticated system optimization and grid support for residential installations up to utility scale PV projects, the market is expected to grow in the forecast period. The initial criteria to be considered in the selection of a PV inverter are the AC grid inter-tie and the array size. Various designs modifications in PV inverters include battery backup inverters, stand alone inverters and grid-tie inverters; each design varies according to the application areas.
PV systems are segmented into commercial, residential and utility scale systems based on their size. Use of small size inverters instead of a single large inverter can be more efficient as it reduces the DC wiring and improves reliability. However, an additional transformer would be required, affecting system efficiency and cost. Commercial scale systems are the largest market globally as these systems are cost effective, while displaying more valuable retail electric power. Utility scale mega-watt in-a-box solution provides a preassembled container with medium voltage transformer, disconnects and inverter. In addition, AC modules with integrated micro-inverters simplify installation and eliminate DC wiring for residential applications. Therefore, innovation in all segments has focused on reducing installation costs. Some of the key factors driving the market include solar PV lease and power purchase agreements, reduced module costs, solar carve-outs, renewable energy targets and feed-in tariffs. Major industry participants include SMA Solar Technology, Siemens AG, ABB, KACO New Energy Inc., Power-One, Tigo Energy and Enphase Energy.
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