The solar energy segment in India has seen significant growth in recent years, with the government launching various initiatives and policies to promote the adoption of renewable energy. By 2030, solar is estimated to contribute approximately 55 per cent of the targeted non-fossil fuel installed capacity of 500 GW, which would amount to around 280 GW. As per the REN21 Renewables 2022 Global Status Report, India ranks fourth in the world in terms of solar power capacity, but it still has a long way to go vis-à-vis the solar market worldwide. As of December 2022, the total installed capacity of solar power is approximately 63,302 MW. The installation of solar capacity has a direct impact on the solar inverter market, which has experienced rapid expansion. Inverters for solar systems are in great demand, given the growing number of solar power installations and the continuous growth in such projects, ranging from large turnkey plants to rooftop installations. According to Data Bridge Market Research, the Indian solar inverter and battery market is expected to reach the value of $2,586.23 million by 2029, registering a compound annual growth rate of 14.7 per cent during the forecast period.
The Indian solar inverters market is highly competitive, with a number of domestic and international companies operating in the space. Micro and smart inverters are becoming increasingly popular in India as the demand for solar energy solutions continues to grow.
In photovoltaic (PV) installations, a solar micro inverter converts the direct current (DC) produced by a single module to alternating current (AC) using plug-and-play equipment. Micro-inverters use module-level power electronics, which require power conversion at the module level. As a result, the impacts of module mismatch are mitigated, and the system as a whole operates more effectively. Compared to traditional inverters, micro inverters also provide module-level monitoring, increased design flexibility, quicker installation and improved safety.
Micro solar inverters provide various benefits, including high energy yield, module-level monitoring capabilities, longer life cycles, improved safety, greater flexibility, simplicity and the lack of a single point of failure. These important elements have contributed to the recent expansion of the use of micro inverters in the solar industry. The expansion of the Indian micro inverter market is therefore anticipated to be bo osted by these advantages over the coming years. These inverters are installed beneath each solar panel, and convert the DC power generated by each panel. This increases the efficiency of the solar panels, enabling the micro inverters to operate independently.
To produce an AC module that is more dependable and less expensive, embedded micro inverters can be completely integrated into the junction box of a module. This, in turn, provides a significant cost advantage to clients, replacing the traditional junction box structure. Moreover, producers of DC optimisers are utilising this technology to develop embedded modules known as smart modules. Furthermore, compared to central inverters, micro inverters last a lot longer, because they are not subjected to the same high power and heat loads. Additionally, the guarantee on micro inverters is often 20-25 years, which is 10-15 years greater than that on central inverters. Since micro inverters are so small, they can easily fit in the rear of a solar panel.
In recent years, Indian households and companies have increasingly relied on solar inverters to cover their electrical needs during power outages. However, as usage grows, it is becoming clear that the grid infrastructure needs to be made more intelligent and resilient. This must be done to ensure that the electricity generation is stable. Smart solar inverters are ideal solutions in this scenario. A smart solar inverter features a strong software infrastructure, bidirectional communication capability and digital architecture.
In addition to providing the functions of conventional inverters and converting DC from solar panels into AC usable by residential and industrial appliances, smart inverters also provide grid support functions such as frequency support, voltage regulation and ride-through capabilities. Implementing smart solar inverters is a great way to improve solar system performance, reduce costs and significantly decrease downtime. There are several cost-effective and smart designs in the market that maximise energy yields even in the most challenging of settings. Additionally, since their operation can be closely monitored via applications or a website, it is easy to carry out maintenance on them at the first indication of a problem. Scalability is another benefit. Stakeholders will receive excellent insights into implementing a solar system on a larger scale in the long term, as they will be able to monitor even the smallest aspects of its performance and operation.
A key challenge faced by manufacturers of smart solar inverters is the high compliance costs. Following standards is challenging due to a lack of testing facilities. Thus, low quality products purporting to be “smart” may enter the market, putting immense pressure on companies complying with the standards.
Key market trends
The solar inverter market in India is characterised by several key trends, including:
- Growing demand for micro and smart inverters: The demand for micro and smart inverters has been growing in India, driven by their ability to improve the performance and efficiency of solar energy systems.
- Government incentives: The Indian government has been offering various incentives and subsidies to encourage the adoption of solar energy, including tax breaks and financial support for individuals and companies investing in solar inverters.
- Declining costs: The cost of solar inverters, including micro and smart inverters, has been declining in recent years, making them more accessible and affordable for consumers.
- Technological advancements: The development of new and improved solar inverters, including micro and smart inverters, has been a key trend in the Indian market, with features such as advanced grid management and optimisation of energy output becoming increasingly popular.
- Growing domestic manufacturing: The Indian government has been encouraging the growth of domestic manufacturing in the solar industry, which has helped increase the availability and affordability of solar inverters in the country.
Overall, these trends are expected to continue to drive the growth of the solar inverter market in India in the coming years, as the government continues to support the renewable energy industry and consumers become increasingly aware of the benefits of solar energy.
Micro and smart inverters are becoming increasingly popular in India as the demand for renewable energy solutions continues to grow. Both have advantages over traditional central inverters, which are typically used in large-scale solar installations. Micro inverters allow for greater design flexibility and better performance in shading conditions, as each panel can operate independently. Smart inverters offer advanced grid management capabilities, which can help integrate renewable energy into the grid more effectively, reducing the impact of intermittency.
The adoption of micro and smart inverters in India is also being driven by the government’s commitment to increasing the use of renewable energy, as well as the growing awareness among homeowners and businesses of the benefits of solar energy. The cost of these inverters has also come down in recent years, making them more accessible to a wider range of consumers. Both micro inverters and smart inverters are gaining popularity in the solar energy sector, as they offer improved performance and increased system efficiency over traditional central inverters. However, micro inverters tend to be more expensive than traditional central inverters, and smart inverters have a higher upfront cost than both micro inverters and central inverters.
Net, net, the choice between micro inverters and smart inverters depends on the specific requirements of the solar energy system, including the size and scale of the system, the system performance goals, and the budget for the project.
By Anusshka Duggal