TMEIC to make inverters in Texas

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Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corporation (TMEIC) has announced that it will begin production of PV inverters and medium voltage (MV) drives at a new factory in the U.S. state of Texas. Manufacturing of inverters will begin in the fall of 2014, followed by MV drives in the Spring of 2015.

TMEIC will produce its Solar Ware inverters at the factory in Houston. The company did not specify which models and was not available for comment by press time, but its website features 250 kW and 500 kW models. This is consistent with TMEIC’s position as a supplier of inverters to the large commercial and utility-scale segments.

The company expects to bring in US$20 million in revenue from its U.S. manufacturing subsidiary in 2015 and $50 million in 2017, but did not state what capacity of inverters the factory will make.

TMEIC is a market leader in Japan’s utility-scale market, and IHS Senior PV Market Analyst Cormac Gilligan says that the company also has a presence in the U.S., China and India. “They are trying to target the largest potential markets,” explains Gillian. “Even if the (Japanese) market is booming currently they realize that they need to expand abroad.”

In April TMEIC acquired AEG’s 400 MW inverter factory in India, and Gilligan notes that shipping costs may be a consideration in its move to localize manufacturing. Unlike light-weight PV modules, utility-scale inverters often weigh more than one ton.

This move also follows Yaskawa Electric’s recent acquisition of U.S. inverter maker Solectria. “Some of the more astute Japanese suppliers have started to expand internationally,” notes Gilligan. “We expect this to continue with some of the other big suppliers in the future.”

Gilligan says that this can have benefits for other markets beyond the United States. “To be able to work with the largest integrators and EPCs in the world is attractive to them.”