Sungrow takes the lead in supplying photovoltaic inverter capacity

In the photovoltaic inverter industry Chinese companies have become important in a relatively short period of time. In 2015, for the first year, the Chinese manufacturers Sungrow and Huawei supplied more PV power conversion capacity than the historical leader, German firm SMA.

In its Inverter Technology Trends and Market Expectations report, Yole Développement ranked Sungrow in top position in terms of installed power capacity, with over 8GW, followed by Huawei and SMA. Nevertheless, SMA continued to lead the PV inverter market in revenue earned, as the Chinese players are mainly supplying China and Southeast Asia, where prices are lower. One of Sungrow’s biggest challenges is now how to conquer the international market with their technology offerings.


Source: Inverter Technology Trends and Market Expectations report, Yole Développement, May 2016

Yole Développement had the opportunity to discuss this with Dr David Zhao, Senior Vice President at Sungrow and President of the company’s PV and Storage Division.

Yole Développement: Please introduce Sungrow’s PV inverter business.
David Zhao: Sungrow is a world-leading PV inverter manufacturer, with global shipments totaling 26GW across over 50 countries. In 2015, Sungrow topped the world with annual shipments reaching up to 8.9GW.

YD: How is your company positioned?
DZ: Sungrow is a world-class technology provider, specializing in PV inverters and energy storage equipment for residential, commercial, and utility-scale PV power plant systems. Founded in 1997, Sungrow is a customer-oriented and innovation-led organization focusing on renewable power generation. For over 20 years, Sungrow has spearheaded innovation in the PV inverter industry with its consistent focus on R&D. This focus on R&D has kept Sungrow’s broad product lineup as the preeminent choice in the ever-evolving solar industry.

YD: Are you planning to enter the solar micro-inverter market?
DZ: Yes, Sungrow is planning to enter the solar micro-inverter market.

YD: Is your business worldwide? What proportion of your business is in China?
DZ: Sungrow is a China-based international company with 15 branches worldwide including USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Indian, Australia, Thailand, Philippines, Chile, plus South Africa, Turkey and Mexico by 2017. Besides this, Sungrow’s international sales team is working proactively to develop customers in regions like Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea.

Generally speaking, Sungrow has a 10% global market share. Specifically, Sungrow has had a stable market share of over 30% in string and central inverters for many years in China. In 2015, Sungrow claimed over 20% of the solar market in Germany.

YD: In which regions are you planning to expand or reinforce your business?
DZ: For Sungrow, the most important foreign markets are divided into four segments. Sungrow started working internationally in Germany, and its office is based in Munich. Sungrow Germany is able to cover the EMEA region with 30 employees. The solar market in Germany is dominated by string inverters, because it is difficult to find large areas of flat land for central inverter projects. The next most important international markets for Sungrow are India, the US and Japan.

YD: How do you see the solar inverter market evolving?
DZ: The Paris Climate Agreement makes the whole world focus on the renewable energy industry, leading global solar inverter markets to grow dramatically. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has enacted beneficial policies to support the domestic solar market. With the solar markets becoming increasingly competitive, solar companies tend to deepen technical innovation to cut costs and improve benefits, making solar inverters more effective, safer and more intelligent.

Obviously, 1500V inverters will be promising in the future. Compared to the 1000V system, the cost-per-watt can be reduced by US$0.03 by using the 1500V system. That means total costs can be decreased by US$3 million for a 100MW power plant with 1500V systems. Sungrow unveiled its 1500V string inverter, SG125HV, at SPI 2016. For more about that see the SG125HV news link.

SG125HV Sungrow 

SG125HV (Courtesy of Sungrow)

YD: China’s solar market has grown impressively in recent years, installing 16GW annually. Yole predicts that in 2020 China will install over 20GW of PV inverters. Do you agree with this prediction?
DZ: According to the National Energy Administration, the installation of solar inverters will cumulatively total 110GW by 2020. 40% of that will be distributed and the other 60% will be utility. Central inverters are the mainstream solutions for utilities due to less initial investment, more friendly connection to the grid, lower costs of maintenance and operation in the long term.

YD: How do you see the evolution of each string and central markets in China?
DZ: According to data recorded by plenty of power plants, the power generation of central inverters is roughly the same as that of string inverters on flat ground. On one hand, the unit capacity of central inverters will be enlarged and over-1MW systems will be more popular. On the other hand, string inverters ranging from 40kW to 100kW will gradually replace those ranging from 20kW to 40kW. There are some trends, as follows:

– Solar inverter hardware will develop rapidly. For example, the inverter efficiency will improve further and target 99.5%.
– Central inverters will have higher power, efficiency and voltage.
– Unit power and power density of string inverters will be further enhanced.
– Products addressing solar modules will be enriched.
– Power grid adaptability of inverters will be improved with complete protection and high reliability.
– The environmental suitability of inverters will be strengthened.

YD: Does Sungrow focus on large-size Battery Energy Storage Systems or residential battery storage?
DZ: Sungrow provides residential and industrial turn-key solutions for customers. For industrial, storage inverters power range from 50kW, 100kW, 250kW, 500kW, 1000kW. Sungrow designs and integrates storage inverters, DC/DC converters and export management systems in one container as a turnkey solution. For residential, Sungrow provides our SH5K storage inverter with nominal power of 5kW and Sungrow’s battery. SH5K is also compatible with other batteries.

YD: What kind of Li-ion technology is used in Sungrow’s battery systems and why?
DZ: We use nickel/cobalt/manganese (NCM) technology. NCM increases cathode compaction density that increases the energy density, has a long lifecycle and high efficiency.

YD: Regarding battery chargers: Is Sungrow developing any specific solutions for (ultra)fast charging?
DZ: Yes, Sungrow has developed a fast charger solution which is compatible with the world’s fastest charge/discharge batteries, whose charge is around 4C, and supercapacitors, which are above 10C. Sungrow and Samsung SDI founded a joint venture in 2015. Samsung SDI supplies battery packs to Sungrow.

YD: What can we hope for Sungrow for the next years?
DZ: Continued Growth. Analysts have projected continued and sustained growth in net income and sales for Sungrow. The primary reason for this is that Sungrow continues to release products that revolutionize the industry. Container solutions are one of our signature products, and we have high efficiency benchmarks across our entire product portfolio. Economies of scale from our high volume supply chain continue to drive costs down. Meanwhile, our innovation-focused company culture motivates us to produce class-leading inverters. This helps our customers to achieve their long-term levelized cost of electricity targets and maximize their project return-on-investment.

Also, we are expanding our international offices and operations worldwide, which will help continue our global growth. This includes in India, where Sungrow has already deployed over 150MW of PV inverters. There is more than 300MW currently in production and delivery for this market as well as 500MW in the pipeline by March 2017. In the US and Canada we have a rapidly growing team, and more and more installations. We have also penetrated the Japanese market, which has the highest threshold in the world, and are continuing to provide smart energy solutions there. In the Asia/Pacific region in general our team and market penetration have expanded rapidly. We have reached over 50% market share in Thailand, becoming the largest PV inverter supplier in the local market.

Headshot of Dr David ZhaoDr. Zhao is the Senior Vice President and President of PV & Storage Division of Sungrow Power Supply Co., LTD. He obtained his Ph. D in power electronics and electric drive from Hefei University of Technology and is holding a research fellowship there. As a member or the leader of a number of national key scientific and technological projects funded by “the Tenth 5-year project”, “the Eleventh 5-year project” or “the National 863 plan project”, Dr. Zhao has also won the First and the Third Prizes for Scientific and Technological Progress in Anhui Province and the title of Top-notch Talent of Hefei City.

Sources: – 



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