Omron: Leader in Small-capacity PV Inverter Market

Enhances system capacity at 'Aso Solar Power Generation Training Facility'

2014/07/19 23:40
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Aso Station, which is the entrance to the Mount Aso sightseeing area, is located about a 90-minute ride on a local train on the Higo Main Line from JR Kumamoto Station. Omron Aso (Aso City, Kumamoto Prefecture), which belongs to the Omron Group and manufactures PV inverters for solar power generation, is about a 10-minute drive from Aso Station. It stands at the foot of Mount Aso and has a fine view of the five mountains of Aso to the south.

The company posted sales of ¥13.83 billion (approx US$136.4 million) for fiscal 2012, and the number of employees was 282 as of April 2013. It is a comparatively small company among the companies belonging to the Omron Group, which posted consolidated sales of ¥650.5 billion for fiscal 2012 and had 35,411 employees as of March 31, 2013.

Omron first commercialized PV inverters for solar power generation in 1994. The company had delivered products that amount to approximately 2,000MW (2GW) in total capacity in the 18 years from 1994 to fiscal 2012. Following the implementation of the feed-in tariff scheme in July 2012, the demand for the products increased rapidly in fiscal 2013, and the shipping volume is expected to reach 1,500MW (1.5GW) in fiscal 2013.

The company commercialized the "KP□M" (4.4/5.5kW), which can also be installed outdoors, in September 2012 in preparation for the start of the FIT scheme and succeeded in accommodating the demands for low-pressure connection under 50 kW (Fig. 1). If nine of the 5.5kW units are installed, for example, the capacity will be 49.5kW, realizing grid connection without a cubicle.

'Protection relays' that Omron originally produced are manufactured in the founder's home town

PV inverters for solar power generation intended for houses are being developed and produced by solar panel manufacturers including Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric. Omron, a major electronics manufacturer that specializes in PV inverters, easily surpasses its competitors in the field of small-scale solar power generation systems and maintains its top position. Omron Aso, the PV inverter production base, has the "Aso Solar Power Generation Training Facility," the validation/training facility for the solar power generation business of the Omron Group, and is the core of its PV inverter business (Fig. 2).

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