In the crowded inverter space, suppliers are expanding to offer digital platforms to create new business models. Development beyond current monitoring software and cloud platforms would help customers efficiently manage energy generation and consumption.
“We’re calling these ‘energy management solutions,’” said Miguel De Jesus, solar market analyst at IHS Markit. ”It’s the idea of inverter suppliers building platforms that allow different electrical components to plug into a central platform, with the inverter at the heart of this system.”
Expanding digital offerings allows inverter suppliers to find growth opportunities in an extremely competitive space. Such digital services make manufacturers “stickier” with their existing customer base and allow for partnerships in the e-mobility, energy storage, lighting, heating and cooling spaces.
Industrial PV inverter suppliers such as ABB, Schneider Electric and GE have developed digital platforms for microgrid applications. Other companies are feeling the pressure and expanding their hardware and software/cloud capabilities to get to a point where they too can develop digital services platforms. According to IHS Markit’s Solar and Energy Storage Trends for 2018, these include PV inverter suppliers with a large residential market share, such as Enphase and SolarEdge, or with a large installed base like SMA and Huawei.
While this new business model has yet to be significantly monetized, companies already working on digital offerings will have an advantage in creating revenue streams.