Growing at 6% per year from 2015-2021 and with increased presence from Chinese players, the inverter industry is heading towards higher power density converters.
2015 was a historic year for solar inverter and wind turbine installations.
The inverter market that Yole Développement covers in this report is continuing its growth, reaching $47B in 2015. Applications span electric and hybrid electric vehicles (EV/HEV), wind turbines, photovoltaic (PV) inverters, rail traction, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and industrial motor drives. The market is driven by three macroeconomic factors: electrification trends in transportation, the need for power conversion optimization for CO2 emission reduction, and the development of clean electricity sources. Governmental incentives and especially the Chinese government’s control of their local market drives an expanding inverter market, which is now largely oriented towards the Asian giant.
Therefore high power applications, and notably PV inverters, wind turbines and automotive markets had historic results. To give an example, China installed over 30 GW of wind capacity, almost doubling the 16 GW installed in 2014. China is a huge market for power electronics representing over 40% of the global market in wind turbines and rail traction.
The automotive industry also has huge potential for inverter manufacturers. The market expanded 20% in 2015 and that growth rate will continue. Yole forecasts an impressive 19.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2015-2021. Full hybrid vehicles will capture most of that market, but full electric cars will also have a considerable expansion from 2018 onwards. The inverter market for cars will almost triple from 2015 to 2021, when it will be worth $8.7B.
The main areas for improvement are inverter efficiencies and power densities.
The drivers and requirements are different from one specific industry to another. In general power generation applications including wind, PV and UPS are focused on improving efficiency. Embedded ‘mobile’ systems, such as EV/HEV, aircraft, and trains have space and weight as their main priority. In this report, we dedicate a chapter to inverter technological evolution, giving a clear vision of the future developments and trends reshaping tomorrow’s inverters. We discuss power density targets and achievement in automotive, around 19kW/l for Toyota’s 2013 Camry or Denso’s prototypes reaching 90kW/l using silicon carbide (SiC) devices, and aerospace industries. We also explore how mechatronics are changing the way automotive converters are designed. And, needless to say, cost remains a top priority for markets like automotive or PV.
We also analyze a possible trend towards operating temperatures around 200°C, answering the question: “Does the power electronics industry need high temperature components?” We also tackle other key questions, on topics like the integration of SiC and Gallium Nitride (GaN) devices in different applications. We answer the questions: When? How? What for?, for each application. We also explain power converter topology trends, like the impact of higher voltage centralized PV inverters. In Europe, voltages are increasing from 1,000V to 1,500V. The US is starting from 600V, and will also increase to 1,000V and later 1,500V.
Finally, we explore the added-value that control and software can provide. We see growing interest in ‘smart converters’ with additional real-time monitoring functions. Control has always been essential and companies have understood that they need to retain know-how in this field. In some cases, inverter manufacturers are considering buying in power electronics and mainly keeping software development in-house. Infineon, Semikron and Danfoss, who offer their power stack off-the-shelf, lead the way in this market. In the report we decode this business model to understand who the potential clients are.
Some markets are in a consolidation phase to enable competition with Chinese players, while others focus on vertical integration.
Chinese players are becoming very strong in some of the markets mentioned above. The rail traction leader has been created by the merger of CRS and CRN to form CRRC, which commands more than 40% of the market. Goldwind has become leader of the wind turbine market, dethroning historical leaders such as Vestas and GE for the first time. And while SMA keeps its number one position in the PV inverter market, both Sungrow and Huawei had better results in terms of new installed capacity in MW.
The Chinese competition is intense, and other players are now obliged to acquire or make partnerships with competitors. This consolidation of the market is already happening in the wind market with GE’s acquisition of Alstom’s renewables business in 2014 and the current discussions between Siemens and Gamesa. In the rail industry discussions are ongoing in order to reinforce the position of European and American players.
Meanwhile, car makers are trying to go downward in the supply chain, aspiring to produce the entire powertrain. The automotive supply chain is large and complex, with many players from different fields. Thus, some energy companies are positioning themselves at the car inverter level creating new inter-application synergies. For example, the German company Siemens, which is already present in the energy, power generation and rail markets, recently revealed its willingness to enter the automotive industry with its own inverter.
This report describes the market’s evolution, the main players’ positions, the technologies that are being used and much more for each application.
- Updated market forecast for the period 2015-2021 for each of the following applications: photovoltaics, wind turbines, EV/HEV, rail traction, UPS and industrial motor drives.
- Focus on inverter technology including topology, power range, voltages, type of device in each application.
- New market share estimates for each application.
- Supply chain organization.
- A technological discussion on hot power electronics topics including power density targets, Wide Band Gap device integration, the need for high temperature power electronics and the power stack market.
Objectives of the Report
This report’s objectives are to:
- Explore the market for inverters and their components
- Understand the market dynamics for related power electronics applications
- Identify the key drivers that will shape the market in the future
- Understand the main technology and market trends
- Have a clear overview of competitive landscape and regional characteristics