Price Competition Translates into Technological Competition_ Growatt Interview (1)

For solar project developers in the country, the decision to choose one inverter over the other is becoming increasingly difficult, given the rapid expansion of the segment, and numerous entrants struggling to make a mark in a price-sensitive market like India.

Mercom recently reported that in the first half (1H) of 2019, the top five solar inverter manufacturers in China accounted for 36.44% of inverter exports globally. Huawei, Sungrow, Solis, GoodWe, and Growatt came out as the top five inverter companies in China in 1H 2019.

At Renewable Energy India (REI) Expo 2019, Mercom had a chance to interview Rucas Wang, manager-sales (Asia Pacific) at Growatt, to discuss market trends, opportunities, and challenges that they face as a string inverter supplier in India and around the globe.

How are your India operations faring this year?

Business has been good, and we are getting a lot of projects. We have a very positive outlook on our business in India. Growatt is looking to clock a 200% growth in sales this calendar year. Starting in September, we are seeing the momentum building up in the market, so we remain confident and optimistic.

Cumulatively, we have supplied around 60,500 inverters in India, and we expect demand to come from industrial consumers and mid-sized utility-scale solar projects as well. For this purpose, we are expanding our service and marketing teams in the country.

What kind of products are you offering in India? You have launched a single phase 1 kW inverter in India, how is the demand for that?

We are offering a wide range of string inverters, starting from a single phase 1 kW inverter up to three-phase 100 kW models. From next year, we are going to offer 200 kW models, as well. Our core business in India comes from rooftop projects from residential, commercial, and industrial consumers, so our products are designed to cater to these markets. We are also launching inverters for the off-grid market. India has issued announced the KUSUM program this year, and we see that there is potential for off-grid rooftop products there.

For the single-phase 1 kW inverter that we launched one month ago, we see a lot of interest from the market. We have also got many orders; the product is very efficient and looks great.

What sets you apart from the competitors?

Our focus has continued to be on research and development for string inverters specifically. So, we believe that we have a technological edge over the other players. Our service team is also very strong, and we have recently started providing after-sales services from our in-house team in India. We are also very conscious about the product designs; our inverters tend to be highly efficient while being compact.

What are your plans for manufacturing in India?

We do believe that a company like ours should have local manufacturing, so we are seriously considering it. At this stage, we are holding discussions with local partners, but these are only discussions at the moment.

What are the challenges for you in India?

The challenges we have in India are price competition, which translates into a technological competition. Clients are increasingly demanding of inverter manufacturers. They want best functionalities of solar inverters at best prices. So the competition is very intense. And that poses a great challenge to the R&D capability of inverter brands. As a leading inverter brand Growatt has its advantages from this aspect. Our R&D strength enables us to continue to meet market demand and grow our sales in India.

How are your global operations doing?

Cumulatively, we have shipped around 1.33 million inverters worldwide. We are the third-largest inverter supplier in the world. China, for us, is the biggest market, followed by Europe and South America, while India would have the fourth or fifth place on that list. We expect that our global ranking as a supplier will also move up over the next few years. Furthermore, India may also move up to take the third spot on this list.