October 1, 2008

Sharp Starts New Thin-Film Solar Cell Output

Osaka, Oct. 1 (Jiji Press)--Sharp Corp. on Wednesday started mass production of a second-generation thin-film solar cell at its plant in Katsuragi in Nara Prefecture, western Japan.

The Japanese electronics maker invested about 22 billion yen in a new production line for the cell, boosting its annual production capacity for thin-film solar cells, including the old one, to 160 megawatts from 15 megawatts.

The next-generation cell will be shipped first to large-scale power plants in Europe, where demand is expanding rapidly.

Sharp is considering launching a new production base for thin- film cells in Europe in fiscal 2010 ending in March 2011, its vice president, Toshishige Hamano, told reporters after a ceremony at the Katsuragi plant.

Sharp hopes to boost its annual production capacity worldwide to one gigawatt in fiscal 2010 and 6 gigawatts in the longer term, Katsuragi said.

Thin-film solar cells allow makers to cut costs because they require simpler production processes than conventional crystalline solar cells. In addition, thin-film cells use only one-hundredth of the silicon needed in conventional cells.

Makers are competing to develop technologies for mass production of thin-film cells. Sanyo Electric Co. and Nippon Oil Corp. are considering setting up a joint venture for making them.END

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