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Schneider Electric to Withdraw From Large-capacity PV Inverter Business

2019/05/08 19:26
Shinichi Kato & Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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An example of Schneider's product introduced at a mega solar plant in Japan (source: Nikkei BP)

Schneider Electric SE, a France-based heavy electric machinery manufacturer, announced that it will withdraw from the global market for PV inverters for large-scale solar power plants (utility scale PV) including Japan.

The company made the decision on the withdrawal in January 2018, it said.

Schneider will supply products for which it has already received orders to mega (large-scale) solar power plants. Also, the company will continue to provide maintenance and after-sales services for PV inverters that it has already supplied and will supply, it said.

Schneider will continue the business of PV inverters for residences and commercial and industrial (C&I) purposes.

Schneider's main large-capacity PV inverter products were models that supported high-voltages such as direct-current (DC) voltages of 1,000V and 1,500V. Especially in Japan, its products containing not only a PV inverter but also receiving and transforming facilities such as a step-up transformer and a switch for grid connection in a container were employed for high-output mega solar plants.

For the future, Schneider will probably make use of its knowledge built up through the business of PV inverters and heavy electric machinery and focus on monitoring and control systems utilizing information and communication technologies (ICTs). In April, the company announced that it would enter the market for ICT systems for microgrids.

In the field of renewable energy, manufactures have had difficulty in dealing with troubles. In the past, a manufacturer withdrew from the Japanese market due to issues related to large-scale wind power generation facilities made outside Japan.

Compared with solar panels, manufacturers' supports are relatively more important for PV inverters. Therefore, it is possible that the risk of foreign manufacturers might emerge from now.