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Enphase Microinverters Crack Solar Ceiling

08/21/13

  09:34:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 448 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar News, Commercial Solar

Enphase Microinverters Crack Solar Ceiling

Enphase at Vine Fresh Produce, Ltd.We saw two news reports about an impressive, 2.3 MW solar array powered by Enphase Microinverters - one at the Enphase Blog and the other over at Renewable Energy World.  Interestingly, the two stories had somewhat different spins.  Here’s our take.

First, and not surprisingly, the folks at Enphase are rightfully crowing over this development, and why shouldn’t they?  An installation this large - the biggest PV project so far under the Ontario (Canada) feed-in tariff program - would be a feather in the cap of any inverter manufacturer.  But for a microinverter company, a project of this size is huge as it shatters the ceiling on appropriate system size for microinverter projects.

Enphase notes that the usual drivers for microinverter adoption - increased yield in shade conditions, safety given the lack of energized DC runs and enhanced monitoring - all played a role in the decision to use microinverters on this project.

Meanwhile over at REW, the spin is a bit different with much of the piece - Microinverters Make a Move on Multi-MW Solar Power Installations by Tildy Bayer - devoted to discussing an analysis of the market for microinverters by IHS Research.  It is that analysis that we found puzzling.

Take this excerpt for example:

The U.S. accounted for nearly 75 percent of [microinverter] shipments IHS recorded prior to 2013, but in many states the residential market for microinverters is approaching saturation. It will be increasingly important, said Gilligan, that microinverters are used by the third-party/solar lease companies which are very active in the country. While solar lease companies such as Vivint Solar and Sunrun have used microinverters in limited numbers, other large companies like SolarCity have preferred to stick with string inverters as the more proven technology, he said. IHS does forecast that microinverters will be used in greater numbers by solar lease suppliers in the coming years as the technology improves and new models are released.

(Emphasis added.)

Really?  What states would that be?  Certainly not in market-leader California where sales of Enphase microinverters are growing rapidly and show no signs of slowing down, let alone saturation.  Indeed, our analysis of the commercial inverter market here in Southern California showed Enphase in the No. 1 spot, increasing its market share by 9% year-over-year.  We should all be so saturated.

And does anyone really believe that SolarCity has avoided Enphase because they aren’t the “proven technology” - or is it simply that they can get lower prices by going with string inverters?

If SolarCity wanted to install products based on the quality of the technology, they would be using Unirac Solarmount Evolution for their racking, LG solar modules - and they would be using Enphase microinverters.  But then they wouldn’t be SolarCity - they would be Run on Sun.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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