Recent research by industry market research company; IMS, states that smart PV inverter shipments are predicted to grow to 27 GW in 2015, accounting for almost 60 percent of the market, asserting a positive outlook. This is compared to the 20% in 2010.
The research highlights the most predominant and popular feature of 'Smart PV Inverters' will be the incorporation of energy storage to help power loads throughout the day, as well as to reduce the reliance on the grid during after hours when the PV system is not operating.
The report "The World Market for PV Inverters" states that reactive power, smart grid interaction and energy storage are transforming inverters from a simple power conversion unit into an essential component of grid infrastructure and has the potential to radically change the PV inverter market over the next five years.
The drive is the utility concerns over grid imbalances, the increasing PV power being connected to the grid and the need for energy storage to take advantage of self-consumption tariffs, reduce reliance on the grid and further incorporate PV into the smart grid.
A highlighted trend in the report is the incorporation of energy storage into inverters. However, the greatest barrier to the development, attraction and adoption of this technology will be the cost and performance of battery technologies. To enable such technology to be feasible, costs have to be reduced and efficiency and reliability have to be increased. This is currently a key R&D focus over the next few years, and will pave the way for widespread acceptance of the dual function. PV Research Analyst for IMS Tom Haddon says "Demand for PV inverters with energy storage will most likely be driven by incentives favouring ‘self-consumption’; however, current solutions, relying on lithium ion batteries, are currently too expensive and need to be reduced considerably before they will be deployed more widely."