Japan's Solar Frontier to shut one plant, boost output at other

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 16, 2012 3:41 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Solar Frontier, a unit of Japan's Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, will shut indefinitely its Miyazaki-Daini solar module plant to help its other factory, which has annual output capacity of 900 megawatts, run at full pace next year.

Concentrating production at the Kunitomi plant in southern Japan would enable Solar Frontier, which specializes in CIGS technology - solar panels made of metals copper, indium, gallium and selenium - to produce up to 900 MW of solar modules in 2013, a company spokesman said on Tuesday.

That would be a jump of around 50 percent from estimated output of 600 MW this year, aimed at meeting demand growth in the Japanese market.

"We want to use the newest and most cost-effective Kunitomi plant fully from next year," the spokesman said.

Kunitomi started working in February 2011. Solar Frontier shut one of its three plants in 2010, and Miyazaki-Daini, which has capacity of only 60 MW, will close this December.

In July, Japan's government introduced a scheme to subsidies renewable power suppliers, in a shift of its energy policy away from nuclear power after last year's Fukushima disaster

Companies and homeowners are rushing to register as power suppliers under the scheme. More than 80 percent of the total registered capacity of 1,778 MW is solar.

Solar Frontier plans to sell about 60 percent of its modules in Japan this year, compared with 30 percent at home and 70 percent abroad in 2011.

(Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)