After occupying a dominant position in module supply, the Chinese companies are aggressively expanding their presence in the Indian solar inverter market. Their combined market share in utility scale projects in the latest available 12-month period has gone up to 46% from 1% just three years ago. 3 of the top 5 players are from China. There is a similar story in rooftop solar with aggregate Chinese market share jumping to 43% from nil just three years ago.
- In the hyper price-sensitive Indian market, the Chinese players have been able to gain market share by offering lower prices;
- Growing Indian volumes have led the larger Chinese inverter companies to look at India as a key strategic market and an export hub for other markets;
- The European and Japanese players are pushing back with more local sourcing and innovative technology, and won’t be pushovers unlike their module manufacturing counterparts;
In 2015, Huawei became the first Chinese inverter company to enter India. It successfully offered a unique concept – string inverters in utility scale projects – at an aggressive price point and grew rapidly. That has drawn in Sungrow, TBEA and many other smaller players including Growatt, Solis, GoodWe, K-Star and Sineng.
Figure: Market share for solar inverters in India
Source: BRIDGE TO INDIA research
Note: Data is shown for a 12-month period from October 2017-September 2018.
The Chinese are formidable competitors with extensive product ranges, nationwide sales and service networks and, of course, aggressive price points. In the hyper-competitive Indian market, where reducing cost remains number one priority for most developers and customers, the Chinese players have been able to offer the right product at the right price. Partly as a result of that, inverter prices in India have fallen steadily in the last 18 months despite large Rupee depreciation – from about INR 1.80/W to 1.60/W at present for central inverters and from about INR 2.75/W to 2.40/W at present for string inverters (prices given are on CIF basis).
We believe that the Chinese companies will likely make further gains in the market particularly in rooftop solar. Sungrow has already set up an Indian assembly plant. TBEA, Huawei and some others are also looking at India as a key strategic market and looking to set up local manufacturing facilities.
But the European and Japanese players won’t be pushovers unlike their module manufacturing counterparts. They are also expanding their product offerings and most of them (ABB, Hitachi, TMEIC, Siemens) have established supply chains in India. They should be able to compete evenly both on technical and commercial aspects.