Enphase Energy Inc   (ENPH)
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Enphase Energy Inc

Business Description

We deliver simple, innovative and reliable energy management solutions that advance the worldwide potential of renewable energy. Our semiconductor-based microinverter system converts direct current (DC) electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity at the individual solar module level, and brings a system-based, high technology approach to solar energy generation leveraging our design expertise across power electronics, semiconductors, networking, and cloud-based software technologies. Our technology was designed to increase energy production, simplify design and installation, improve system uptime and reliability, reduce fire risk, and provide a platform for intelligent energy management. Since inception, we have shipped more than 16 million microinverters, representing over 3 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) generating capacity, and more than 739,000 Enphase residential and commercial systems have been deployed in over 110 countries.

Historically, traditional central inverters were the only inverter technology used for solar photovoltaic, or PV installations. In an installation consisting of a traditional central inverter, the solar PV modules are connected in series strings. In a large installation, there are multiple series strings connected in parallel. The aggregated voltage from each of these strings is then fed into a large central inverter. As compared to microinverter systems, we believe that traditional central inverters have a number of design and performance challenges limiting innovation and their ability to reduce the cost of solar systems, including the following:

Productivity limits. If solar modules are wired using a traditional central inverter—group or “string” of modules are wired in series—an entire string’s output is limited by the output of the lowest-performing module. Because of its string design, there is a single point of failure risk with the traditional central inverter approach.

Reliability issues. Traditional central inverters are the single most common component of solar installations to fail, resulting in system downtime and adversely impacting total energy output. As a result, central inverters typically carry warranties of only 5 to 10 years.

Complex design and installation requirements. The central inverter-based solar PV installation requires greater effort on the part of the installer, both in terms of design and on-site labor. Central inverter installations require string design and calculations for safe and reliable operation, as well as specialized equipment such as DC combiners, conduits and disconnects. In addition, the use of high-voltage DC requires specialized knowledge and training and safety precautions to install central inverter technology.

Lack of monitoring. The majority of solar installations with central inverter technology offer limited monitoring capabilities. A failure of the central inverter will often go unnoticed for days or even weeks. If a module fails or is not performing to specification, the resulting loss of energy can go unnoticed for an extended period of time.

Safety issues. Central inverter solar PV installations have a wide distribution of high-voltage (600 volts to 1,000 volts) DC wiring. If damaged, DC wires can generate sustained electrical arcs, reaching temperatures of more than 5,000 °F. This creates the risk of fire for solar PV installation owners and injury for installers and maintenance personnel.
These challenges of traditional central inverters have a direct impact on the cost and expected return on investment of solar installations to both installers and system owners:

Installer. Solar PV installers aim for simple installation design, fast installation times and maximum system performance and predictability. The installation of high-voltage DC central inverter technology, however, requires significant preparation, precautionary safety measures, time-consuming string calculations, extensive design expertise and specialized installation equipment, training and knowledge. Together, these factors significantly increase complexity and cost of installation and limit overall productivity for the installer.

System owner. Solar system owners aim for high energy production, low cost, high reliability, and low maintenance requirements, as well as reduced fire risks. With traditional central inverters, owners often are unable to optimize the size or shape of their solar PV installations due to string design limitations. As such, they experience performance loss from shading and other obstructions, can face frequent system failures and lack the ability to effectively monitor the performance of their solar PV installation. In addition, central inverter installations operate at high-voltage DC which bears significant fire risks. Further, due to their large size, central inverter installations can affect architectural aesthetics of the house or commercial building.

Our objective is to be the leading provider of energy management solutions for the solar industry worldwide. Key elements of our strategy include:

Grow market share in our core markets. We intend to capitalize on our market leadership in the microinverter category and our momentum with installers and owners to expand our market share position in our core markets.

Enter new geographic markets. We intend to further increase our market share in Europe, the Asia Pacific region and Latin America. In addition, we intend to expand into new markets with new and existing products and local go-to-market capabilities.

Expand our product offerings. We continue to make R&D investments to develop all components of our energy management solution and remain committed to providing our partners with best-in-class power electronics, storage solutions, communications, and load control all managed by a cloud-based energy management system.

Increase power and efficiency and reduce cost per Watt. Our engineering team is focused on continuing to increase average power conversion efficiency above 97% and AC output power beyond 280 watts. We intend to continue to leverage our semiconductor integration, power electronics expertise and manufacturing economies of scale to further reduce cost per watt.

Extend our technological innovation. We distinguish ourselves from other inverter companies with our systems-based and high technology approach, and the ability to leverage strong research and development capabilities.

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