DescriptionGrowth, supply chain, new applications: inverter industry is about to redefine itself.INTENSE RESHAPING OF THE INVERTER SUPPLY CHAIN
The inverter market is heavily application dependent. However, there are some cross-fertilization trends — companies with a good position within one inverter market segment are researching entry into other segments. Companies like Alstom, ABB, Ingeteam, Siemens, and General Electric already offer products in two or more inverter segments.
Some players have chosen vertical integration to optimize their internal cost structure to better target commodity-like markets, as well as to meet the severe cost requirements of the automotive industry. Other players have bet on horizontal integration to offer complete solutions to customers.
The inverter supply chain is changing to align with new customers’ requirements. This was first learned in the PV industry when the first SiC inverters were introduced several years ago by SMA and REFUsol (now AEI), since then the highest customer priority has changed from high efficiency to low cost.
The reshaping of the inverter supply chain is the most pronounced when analyzing the local market drivers and players. In this report we focus on China and Chinese players that heavily impact the overall market in most inverter applications.
Understanding the characteristics of a local market is important in identifying the most promising market sectors and also helps in choosing the right product mix and the optimal sales strategy. Companies which can anticipate regional market changes are on the best path to conquering new markets, and will lose less in weakened markets. China and Japan remain the markets with relatively difficult access for foreign players, and thus are dominated by local companies — except for the rail and UPS application markets. Many European and US companies are working to improve their position within the huge growth potential markets — PV, wind, and electric vehicles.
NEW DRIVERS REQUIRE ADAPTED TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY AND SYSTEM LEVEL APPROACH
As the inverter market develops, it will greatly impact the development of power electronic devices. The report will show that the new driving applications, such as EV/HEV, are modifying the development targets. EV/HEV will represent a relatively small inverter market in terms of revenue, but a large market in number of units. Moreover, many innovations in the inverter industry are coming from EV/HEV and will be applied in other inverter applications. Power electronics development, which previously had been mainly driven by high performance applications (with low price as a second priority), has had to adapt to new requirements coming from the automotive industry — a drive towards lower costs. The automotive industry offers the largest market potential (in number of units) but the price pressure typical for this application is strong and will result in lower margins. Only those innovations with a clear proposition value and at expected low costs can be accepted by the automotive industry. For example, higher efficiency aside, a weight/volume reduction (valuable in some applications) can be obtained on a system level using GaN and SiC devices, thus leveraging their higher costs. Another approach to obtain a weight/volume reduction and better reliability is to use power modules. Because of the careful optimization of single inverter components and the materials and structures used, a cost reduction on the system level could also be obtained. As shown in the report, innovative packaging solutions based on new materials and enhanced cooling schemes (Directly-Bonded-Aluminium, AlN and Si3N4 substrates, eutectic soldering, double-side cooling…) are already the focus of some development activities.
The system level approach — based on batteries, monitoring, and communication systems — leads to innovations aiming for better integration between the electricity grid and the electricity generated by PV system and wind generators, as well as a better integration of electric vehicles into smart buildings and smart cities.
$65 BILLION INVERTER MARKET BY 2020 WILL BE DRIVEN BY MULTIPLE APPLICATIONS
The inverter market will be driven by three factors: electrification trends in transportation, the need for power conversion optimization for CO2 emission reduction, and the development of clean electricity sources. Such strong and sustainable drivers will make the inverter market grow. The market will reach almost $65 billion by 2020. This report provides a detailed analysis of seven inverter market segments (PV, wind turbines, EV/HEV, electric & hybrid buses, rail traction, UPS, and motor drives) and related market forecasts for the period 2013-2020. The largest markets in 2020 (in revenues) will be represented by motor drives, UPS, and PV. The strongest market growth will be featured by EV/HEV (CAGR2013-2020=18.3%), with the wind and UPS markets remaining almost flat.
OBJECTIVES OF THE REPORT
The objectives of the report are:
- Access the market for inverter and its components
- Understand the market dynamics for the 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
- Understand the horizontal and vertical integration trends within the inverter value chain
- Update of market forecast for each application (photovoltaics, wind turbines, EV/HEV, electric & hybrid buses, rail traction, UPS and motor drives) for the period 2013-2020
- Focus on hybrid & electric buses added
- Evolution of the inverter supply chain