The new U.S. manufacturing following President Trump’s imposition of import duties on solar cells and modules under Section 201 has to date been almost exclusively module assembly. In fact, other U.S. solar manufacturing sectors appear to have suffered under the move. This includes racking, tracking and mounting systems makers, which have had to deal with both the market impacts of Section 201 and increases in material prices due to steel and aluminum tariffs.
But with a trade war between the United States and China raging, it may be a good time to locate manufacturing on this side of the Pacific to avoid future unforeseen interruptions. And while it is unclear if that is part of the motivation or not, today Chint Power announced that its subsidiary CPS America is actively engaged in bringing a portion of its manufacturing to the United States.
CPS has announced that along with tripling the size of its facilities near Dallas, Texas in June, that it will be beginning assembly and test operations for some of its inverter products for those customers that want additional U.S.-made content.
The company will focus on its 50-60 kW inverters, with the first assembly starting in Q3. From there it will move to partial assembly of its 1500V 100-125kW products. The total capacity of the pilot line will be around 60 MW annually. “It will be set up to prove and refine USA assembly processes,” Ed Heacox, general manager for CPS America told pv magazine.
In addition to this, CPS says that it is looking around for a location in the U.S. Midwest for commercial-scale inverter assembly, noting that it has hundreds of megawatts of supply agreements with large developers. The company says that it has initiated a search, and will consider a number of factors including proximity to customers and projects as well as local incentives and support.
Heacox says that the company envisions setting up around 100-200 MW of annual inverter capacity at the Midwest location, with “readiness to scale by 100% as needed per customer demand.” Focus will again be on the 50-60 kW and 100-125 kW product lines.
Heacox notes that this is not a shift, but an expansion. “CPS will continue full operating capability and capcity in Its existing global operations – the USA activities will supplement the existing core volume facilities,” he explains.
CPS is also expanding its service and training capabilities in Texas, which it says reflects its continued growth in the U.S. market, as well as its business in Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American nations. The company claims #1 market share in the United States for 3-phase string inverters, with over 60,000 units shipped representing 2.3 GW in capacity.