Enphase noted in its two prior quarterly earnings calls that its total revenues were up, that margins had increased significantly (from teens to over thirty percent) and that new hardware was coming. Overall they painted a picture of a company that was doing well – and the market agreed by pushing share prices.
But Enphase also revealed that it is sold out months in advance due to a worldwide shortage of a component being eaten up by electric vehicle chargers. In its Q3 earnings call, Enphase noted that it has taken the unusual step of making its own components, by investing in a new dedicated manufacturing line for MOSFETs which it expects to come online during the first quarter of 2019.
In a letter to customers and partners dated February 5, and found on reddit.com in r/solar, Enphase has stated that lead time for getting inverters, even with the new manufacturing volume coming online recently, is approximately 13 to 15 weeks. The company also noted it has signed two new contracts with manufacturers of the component that would come online in Q3 and Q4 of 2019. With these new additions, the company believes the lead time on its products will then improve to approximately 6 to 8 weeks.
In the Q3’18 earnings call, President and CEO Badri Kothandaraman said:
We recognized this problem about six to eight months ago. I invested money, creating a dedicated line for us to create capacity, and that line is coming on board in January of 2019. So I expect majority of my supply problems to be gone in Q1 of ’19.
Increased global demand by electric car chargers of High Voltage Power Field Effect Transistors have led to supply greatly tightening. In the Q3’19 call Enphase noted the MOFSET 600 volt transistor was made only by a handful of companies: STMicroelectronics, Infineon, Alpha & Omega Semiconductor, On Semi, and Toshiba.
Enphase says that it appreciates the flexibility its buyers have given it in delivering product. This might mean that Enphase is doing its best to make sure as many of their customers as possible get access to hardware, while limiting the total volumes anyone is getting; in essence rationing.
The image to the left was found on Infineon’s website, one of the manufacturers noted by Enphase in the Q3’18 earnings call, and is a 600V CoolMOS™ C7 Power Transistor (pdf). The specification page notes it is applicable for, “PFC stages and PWM stages (TTF, LLC) for high power/performance SMPS e.g. Computing, Server, Telecom, UPS and Solar.” The component is approximately 40 mm tall, 16 mm wide, and 5 mm thick. A similar unit, but not the same part number as above, was found for sale on Mouser Electronics with a list price of $3.09.
High voltage electric vehicle charging is enabled by these components, which speeds up charging times while making for more efficient energy use, but also lightens the system’s weight in cars by lowering complexity and allowing for fewer on vehicle parts.