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Friday 30 September 2016

Enphase Energy launches photovoltaic microinverters in France

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by Baptiste Roux Dit Riche | Cleantech Republic | 09.28.11

Enphase Energy

In the light of the recent tariff changes, launching a new photovoltaic solution in France could seem a daring or even unrealistic challenge. This is not the opinion of Olivier Jacques, chief executive of Enphase Energy’s French subsidiary, who started, in last June, the marketing of microinverters for solar panels in France. A solution that has already been distributed in the United States for the past two years. “The decision made by the French government is brutal but the sector had been warned of tariff degression. This market is new and needs to be monitored. It is in the sector’s interest to have a strong growth for the next years.”

Even better: while many protagonists are concerned about the drastic change of the game rules, Enphase Energy is planning to take advantage of the situation. Thanks to an irrefutable argument: the profitability of its technology. Unlike centralized systems in which all panels are connected to the same inverter, the American device provides a parallel installation. Each panel is equipped with a microinverter connected to a centralized bus. In case of failure of a panel or an inverter, the rest of the installation is not impacted. Energy production is continuous therefore optimal.

Olivier Jacques

Olivier Jacques

Optimized production, maximum safety
“On an average 20-year lifespan, we consider that installations equipped with microinverters produce between 15 and 25% more energy,” Olivier Jacques promises. Enphase Energy products are easy to install and could also help reduce installation and workforce costs. These savings could cover up the 10 to 20% cost overrun of these microinverters in comparison to standard systems. The second advantage is safety. “In a standard system, there is a central point on which important charges are concentrated. There are risks of electric arcs and therefore of fires. Microinverters do not raise such problems.” Enphase Energy will thus guarantee the products sold in France for about 15 years. Note that users will be able to check their installations’ production via a CPL web interface displaying each panel’s performances in real time.

Targeting private individuals and professionals
The launching of Californian microinverters in France is planned for June 2011, in coordination with Benelux and Italy, and targets both business and private markets. “We will gradually broaden our field of action, Olivier Jacques explains. In 2011, we will focus on 0 to 40 kW installations. From 2012 on, we will go up to 200 kW. We want to enter the European market in a sustainable and constructive way.” In France, Enphase Energy thus plans to sign a series of commercial agreements with big and small installers, professional retailers, specialists in integrated structures and, of course, panel manufacturers. The latter are currently being canvassed. “It is difficult to grow in France. For the company, taking on the most difficult market guarantees us that we will be able to develop later in other areas with less problems.”

Enphase Energy in brief

  • Headquarters: Petaluma (California)
  • Founders: Martin Fornage and Raghu Belur
  • Created: 2006
  • Marketing: 2008
  • Sales: 700,000 microinverters sold throughout the world; 1,000,000 by the end of 2011 (target)
  • Employees: 200 people; 300 people by the end of 2011, 15 of whom in France
  • Market shares in the United States (source: Enphase Energy): 95% on the microinverter market; 20% on the global microinverter market
  • Market shares in France (targets): number 1 on the microinverter market; in the top 5 on the global inverter market
  • Competitors: SolarBridge, One Network…
  • Production: Flextronics (China)
  • Price of a microinverter: N/A

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