Solar market research

The Microinverter and DC Optimizer Landscape 2014: The Evolution From Market Niche to Market Success

Microinverters and DC optimizers (collectively known as module-level power electronics, or MLPE) comprise one of the newest and fastest-growing sectors in the solar industry. The product segment surpassed 1 GW of annual volume and over 2 GW of cumulative installed capacity in 2013, just four years after the first contemporary products entered the market. While initially considered a niche solution for residential or shaded rooftops, the category has consistently expanded its appeal, to the point where nearly half of the MLPE category’s volume is in the commercial-scale market, particularly for DC optimizers. The module-level electronics providers have done this by evolving their value proposition while simultaneously reducing product costs.

Thus far, the landscape has been dominated by a few players -- Enphase Energy and SolarEdge Technologies, with Tigo Energy a distant third – accounting for 88% of capacity shipped in 2013. Yet, new players are joining every day, many with significant venture or private backing. At the end of 2013, the distributed optimization market had been fueled by over $600 million of venture and public capital - not including internal corporate development - even though it still accounts for just 2.5% of the overall PV market. While the growth of the space has surpassed expectations, it remains one of the most hotly contested sectors in solar: skeptics still dismiss the overall value of the products, while the bulk of industry discussion has turned to where, and how much, the sector will evolve. 

FIGURE: Module-Level Power Electronics Taxonomy

Source: GTM Research

At over 130 pages, this new report describes the MLPE market's transition into its second chapter. In it, incumbent companies are initiating growth strategies as a new group of well-funded competitors enter the space. The report analyzes the value proposition and cost-benefits of module-level power electronics, provides a competitive landscape of the market, and forecasts growth globally and by region.

Companies profiled in the report include:

Ampt | APS | Draker / Solar Power Technologies | Empower Micro | Enphase Energy | Enecsys | I-Energy | LG Electronics | Petra Solar | Power-One | ReneSola | SMA | SolarBridge | SolarEdge | Sparq Systems | Tigo Energy | Volterra Semiconductors / Maxim Integrated


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Report Author


Paul Grana is the founder of Folsom Labs, a leading provider of design and performance modeling tools for the solar PV industry. Previously, he was the director of product management for Tigo Energy. He has also worked for eIQ Energy and Abound Solar, and is the lead inventor on a patent regarding combiner box design.

Paul holds a Bachelor of Science with Honors in mathematics from the University of Chicago, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Report Author


  • MJ Shiao
  • Director, Solar Research
  • contact

MJ Shiao is the Director of Solar Research for GTM Research and is a leading expert on PV inverters, electronics, and balance of system components. A 9-year veteran of the solar industry, MJ has experience ranging from fabrication of crystalline silicon solar cells to PV project development. Before joining GTM Research, MJ managed and designed several MWs of residential and commercial PV projects with Solar Design Associates. Prior to project management, MJ worked at the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). MJ holds a bachelor's in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware, where he was named a National Truman Scholar. A believer in the social benefits of solar power, MJ has researched, installed and tested rural off-grid PV in India and Thailand and formerly served on the Steering Committee of SustainUS, a non-profit engaging U.S. youth in sustainable development advocacy.

Follow MJ Shiao on Twitter@solarmj

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