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Yaskawa adds The Switch to its growing renewables portfolio

24 July, 2014

The Japanese motion control and robotics supplier Yaskawa Electric is buying the Finnish permanent magnet (PM) generator and power conversion specialist, The Switch, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition follows a collaboration agreement between the two companies in September 2013, under which they have been distributing each other’s wind turbine generators and converters.

Yaskawa says that it intends to use The Switch as a key company in its environment and energy business, with the aim of becoming the leading supplier to the wind turbine market.

The Switch was formed in 2006 as a spin-off of several Finnish companies, including the drives-maker Vacon which, until the Yaskawa deal, held a 13.9% stake in the company. Another significant shareholder has been the power semiconductor specialist, Semikron, with a 19% holding. The Switch employs more than 200 people and in 2013 achieved global sales worth €46.2m. It has 7GW of installed windpower capacity in operation around the world.

Yaskawa and The Switch say that their portfolios are complementary. The Switch’s PM machines and LV converters span ratings from 500kW to more than 8MW, while Yaskawa offers medium-voltage converters for large wind turbines and other applications. Yaskawa will use its global network to promote The Switch’s products for windpower, marine and industrial applications.

“From our customers’ point of view, this acquisition ensures global availability of The Switch offering,” says Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, president and CEO of The Switch. “Yaskawa is an industrial company that understands our strengths and shares our strategic views. With close cooperation with Yaskawa group we can further extend our offering and can serve better our customers in a broader range of wind and marine applications as well as numerous other industrial applications.”

Yaskawa says that “with common technological strengths in motor and power electronics, we will offer revolutionary products and solutions to our customers for wind and tidal generation, as well as nautical and industrial applications”.

Mäkinen: a broader range of applications

Another sign of Yaskawa’s growing involvement in the renewable energy market was its recent acquisition of the US photovoltaic (PV) inverter manufacturer, Solectria Renewables.

According to the market analyst IHS, Yaskawa will use its global network to promote The Switch’s products not only in renewable energy applications, but also in industrial applications for motor control.

IHS estimates that Yaskawa accounted for 4.5% of the world market for LV drives in 2013, and for 6% of global revenues for motion control in 2012 . The Switch accounted of the 2.5% global market for wind converters in 2012 in terms of revenues.

IHS points out that Yaskawa’s takeover of The Switch follows follow previous mergers between other industrial component suppliers and wind turbine component manufacturers, such as ABB and PowerOne, GE and Converteam, ZF Friedrichschafen and Hansen, and Siemens and Loher, in addition to the amalgamation of Winergy. The analyst believes that this indicates a trend towards a more consolidated windpower drivetrain component market. 




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