String Inverters Single-Phase Solutions for the North American Market (2011): Page 5 of 10
Inside this Article
Ingeteam solidified its commitment to the US market with the announcement of a new 100,000-square-foot combined production facility and office complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with completion set for some time this summer. The company expects the facility to employ approximately 275 workers by 2015 and is projected to achieve an annual production capacity of 300 MW. In addition, Ingeteam has a business office in Santa Clara, California, focused on developing the company’s presence in the North American PV market.
KACO new energy. Founded under the name Kupfer-Asbest- Company Gustav Bach in 1914, KACO has evolved from a manufacturer of ring gaskets for use in the automotive industry to the third-largest inverter manufacturer worldwide in 2010. The firm is privately held, is based in Neckarsulm, Germany, and currently has 700 employees worldwide. KACO pioneered the development of electromechanical choppers (predecessors of modern inverters) in the 1940s during World War II in response to the destruction of large segments of Germany’s electrical grid. In 1994, the company began developing inverter technology for PV applications. Today, KACO offers a full line of inverters for residential, commercial and utility-scale applications and has produced more than 3 GW of PV inverters since 1999. A secondary business unit is dedicated to the manufacture of power supply systems for rail and industrial applications. More than 15,000 KACO battery-coupled power supply systems have been employed in rail vehicles worldwide. The company was reorganized in 2009 as KACO new energy GmbH.
While the German PV market has traditionally been the primary focus of KACO’s product distribution, international exports currently represent 35% of the company’s inverter sales. KACO has branch offices in locations that include Canada, China, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Spain and the US. The company’s North American headquarters is located in San Francisco. KACO is actively working to increase its presence in the North American market. KACO new energy began producing 60 MW of string inverters at its San Jose, California, facility in January 2011. The 1502xi and 2502xi models manufactured at this location have been available since Q1 2011, and the 3502xi and the 5002xi models assembled there will be available this summer. The revised nameplate for these inverters will make it clear that the products are assembled in the US. According to Svea Jeske, KACO marketing and event manager, the company’s motivation to manufacture in San Jose is twofold: “California remains one of the strongest and most promising US markets for PV. In addition, San Jose’s proximity to major national distribution will make this production development strategically beneficial for the solar market in California and beyond.” In May 2011, KACO announced the opening of a new North American manufacturing facility in London, Ontario, Canada. The plant has more than 30,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space and will produce a projected 1 GW of PV inverters for the Canadian market in 2011. The company plans to employ more than 100 full-time employees at the facility.
In 2006, KACO released its first string inverters in the US, which included the 1501xi, 2901xi and 3601xi models. The first-generation model line was replaced in 2009 with the current 02xi series. The redesigned model line is comprised of 1.5 kW to 5 kW units. The products come standard with an integrated connection box that houses a dc/ ac disconnect. The split-architecture design allows the inverter to be separated from the wiring/switch enclosure to simplify maintenance or repair work. Output can be configured for 208 Vac, 220 Vac (Mexico) and 240 Vac services. The 1.5 kW, 2.5 kW and 3.5 kW models feature passive cooling. Integrators should note that the 5 kW unit’s cooling approach combines passive cooling with internal fan assist. Web-based system monitoring can be enabled via KACO’s optional watchDOG communication card, and KACO offers blueplanet web, a free webhosted monitoring service for residential systems of up to 10 kW in capacity.
Immediately prior to this issue’s publication date, KACO formally announced the availability of two new transformerless inverter models that are competitively priced for the US market. These models were originally announced in 2010. Both of these inverters are listed to UL 1741 and are eligible for the CSI program. The 6400xi and 7600xi inverters have achieved a CEC efficiency rating of 96.5% and are 94% efficient at 10% of rated output power. The introduction of the new transformerless models is a forward-looking move for KACO and a chance to gain early market share in the rapidly evolving transformerless string inverter space in the US.