Revenue growth is a key metric for five publicly traded PV inverter manufacturers in 2019, led by SolarEdge’s rapid surge. Image: SolarEdge
Revenue growth is a key metric for five publicly traded PV inverter manufacturers in 2019, led by SolarEdge’s surge.
The five publicly traded companies currently under review are SolarEdge, SMA Solar, Sungrow, Enphase and Ginlong, all of which had strong sales growth in 2019, in stark contrast to several years of volatile fluctuations.
As the graph below shows, SolarEdge’s growth has been remarkable. Flatlining sales in 2016 were transformed in 2017 and increased continuously until the end of 2018. In the first nine months of 2019, however, SolarEdge’s revenue growth grew significantly faster, only reaching a plateau in the fourth quarter. The company has also outperformed two major competitors (SMA Solar and Sungrow) since 2017.
SolarEdge has been a leader in revenue growth for several years.
The quarterly sales figures of SMA Solar, once the leading manufacturer of PV inverters, showed wild fluctuations until the end of 2018 with an underlined downward trend.
However, SMA Solar rallied strongly in 2019 and adjusted SolarEdge’s fourth-quarter revenue growth profile to a nearly similar profile.
It was the third quarter of 2018 when SMA Solar’s sales fell below SolarEdge’s for the first time. Although the revenue gap continued to widen in the first quarter of 2019, SMA Solar reclaimed some of SolarEdge’s 2019 profits.
Sungrow does not split the sales figures of the PV inverters quarterly, but rather the sales of the PV inverters as a percentage of the annual sales in the annual reports, which enables a rough quarterly calculation to carry out the competition comparison.
In recent years, PV inverter sales in the fourth quarter were the high point in a calendar year, but had reached a plateau overall. However, PV Tech’s calculations in 2019 indicate much weaker PV inverter sales in the first half of the year, followed by an increase in sales in the third quarter and a massive increase in sales in the fourth quarter of 2019. As a result, Sungrow outperformed Enphase in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Enphase was the laggard in the group for a long time and saw a strong sales recovery from the second quarter of 2018. Sales grew rapidly in 2019 and set a new record compared to the previous quarter.
Although revenue growth continued in the fourth quarter of 2019, the pace slowed slightly.
New to this competitive analysis is Ginlong, which had its first year as a public company in 2019. After the IPO, Ginlong was a capital boost and was able to expand both its product range and its sales markets in 2019 compared to the previous year. Ginlong posted strong sales growth in the first half of the year. However, sales peaked briefly in the second half of the year, but has since announced plans to double its production capacity to 20 GW per year due to demand and continued market expansion plans.
PV inverter shipments
In contrast to the PV module industry, the megawatts delivered by PV inverters depend heavily on the company’s product range. Both SMA Solar and Sungrow supply central inverters for the supply-scale markets in certain countries and therefore, in contrast to the dedicated micro-inverter supplier Enphase, which mainly supplies roof markets for private households in certain key regions such as the USA and Europe, usually have shipments with them high MW.
In the table below, we’ve only analyzed annual inverter deliveries by megawatts for four of the five companies, as Ginlong did not report any MW deliveries in its first annual report.
Both SMA Solar and Sungrow supply central inverters for the utility markets in certain countries and therefore typically have high MW shipments.
Unsurprisingly, Sungrow and SMA Solar have significantly higher shipments than SolarEdge and Enphase. Although Sungrow is the group leader in shipments, annual growth rates have been minimal in recent years and the weakest growth compared to its competitors in 2019.
SMA Solar recorded another strong recovery in deliveries in 2019 and, after two years of flat deliveries of around 8.5 GW, reached a new record high of 11.4 GW in 2017 and 2018.
The deliveries for SolarEdge and Enphase will take place on parallel growth ramps in 2019.
In contrast, research firm Wood Mackenzie recently released broadcast market share data for 2019 from a number of major inverter suppliers, many of which are unlisted or companies that are publicly traded but rarely provide actual breakout numbers for such a category.
As the graphic below shows, Huawei is still considered to be the company with a leading market share that is almost double that of Sungrow in second place and SMA Solar’s market share by megawatt deliveries almost tripled.
Huawei is still considered the company with a leading market share that is almost twice as high as Sungrow’s in second place and SMA Solar’s market share for megawatt deliveries almost tripled. Image: WoodMac