Sharp Corp. announced that it has increased annual production capacity for solar cells at its Katsuragi Plant in Nara Prefecture by 100MW to meet burgeoning demand in Japan and abroad, and has constructed a system that will be able to enter full production by November 2006. As a result, solar cell production capacity at the Katsuragi Plant will reach 600MW per year, which the company claims to be the world’s highest.
Despite concerns in the photovoltaic (PV) power generating market about a shortage of processed silicon (the raw material for solar cells), PV systems are increasingly being used in Japan for industrial applications and are being installed on new residential construction in collaboration with home builders. In Europe and the U.S.A., demand is expected to expand even further in the future, centered on industrial and commercial uses thanks to the introduction of subsidies and implementation of policies mandating power buy-back programs by utilities.
To more effectively utilize raw materials, Sharp is working to make solar cells even thinner and improve thin-film solar cells which use minimal amounts of silicon, as well as establish highly efficient production systems and expand and upgrade its production lines. For the future, Sharp has set a goal to further expand its solar energy business, which it claims holds out tremendous potential as clean energy that does not generate substances that place a burden on the environment.