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Japanese solar module factories retreat since Chinese modules taking more market

  • 2021-12-14

With only 20 years of development, Chinese solar module manufacturing has set its leading position in the world.

At the same time, the development of solar energy enterprises in Japan fluctuates. With the continuous growth of Chinese solar energy enterprises, Japanese solar energy giants encountered serious failures and successively transformed or retired from solar energy manufacturing.

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Solar Frontier retreats from solar thin film cell production for business transformation

Idemitsu Kosan, the parent company of Solar Frontier announced on this October 12 to stop the production of CIS thin-film solar cells by its wholly-owned subsidiary, Solar Frontier, at kunitomi factory in Miyazaki County at the end of June 2022. In the future, the company will strengthen the design, financing, EPC and O&M undertakings of power stations and seek the transformation of the company's business structure.

Different from the mainstream silicon solar cells in the market, Solar Frontier focuses on the manufacturing and sales of CIS thin-film solar cells, which are characterized in that the power generation layer mainly uses copper, indium and selenium. The main market is in Japan, with a small amount of sales in Europe, America and India.

In the face of fierce competition from Chinese module enterprises, Solar Frontier's business situation continues to deteriorate and its production is unsustainable.

However, Solar Frontier will not completely stop the research and development of thin-film solar cells. It will focus on the next generation technology research institute, and use the high radiation tolerance advantage of CIS to further explore the space use, as well as the tandem solar cells that are expected to be carried on mobile bodies such as electric vehicles and UAVs for communication.

In addition, the company will also purchase crystalline silicon solar cells from OEMs. In addition to launching its own consumption system, the company will also focus on solar power generation and the development of combined systems of electric vehicles and batteries.

On October 29, 2021, Solar Frontier released the new monocrystalline silicon solar cell product "SFB 250-88a" for residential use. Orders were accepted since November 1.

The output power of the new product is 250W, the maximum output working voltage is 25.08V, with conversion efficiency of 19.3%, the overall dimension is 1320x977x35mm, and the weight is 14.0kg. It is almost the same size as the compact module of the CIS thin film solar cell module "SFK series" of the company, and achieves higher output at the same time.

Panasonic quits solar cell production while maintaining the sales of solar panels at home and abroad

Panasonic announced on February 1, 2021 that it would withdraw from the production of solar cells and would shut down its Malaysian plant and Shimane plant. The production of all solar modules for housing and industry would end in 2021.

After the withdrawal of Panasonic's own production, the production of solar panels in Japan will be entrusted to other agent factories and continue to be sold under Panasonic's brand. For overseas production, Panasonic will continue to sell through external procurement of solar cells already implemented in North America and other places.

Affected by the decline in domestic demand for solar cells in Japan, Panasonic said in 2017 that it would carry out structural reform of solar power generation. The production of Shiga plant, as the production base of solar cell modules, ended at the end of March 2018. In the future, Shiga plant will make full use of Shimane plant and Malaysian plant, and strengthen the sales of modules and system equipment.

Panasonic said that with the completion of module production in the two plants, the structural reform of the company's business related to solar power generation has been completed.

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Mitsubishi Electric stops solar module manufacturing and cooperates with Kyocera on system solutions

Mitsubishi Electric announced on November 15, 2019 that the manufacturing and sales of Mitsubishi brand solar power generation system will end in late March 2020. For renewable energy, Mitsubishi Electric will devote itself to the development of zero energy housing, zero energy building, vehicle wireless communication technology and other fields in the future.

Affected by the declining FIT of renewable energy in Japan, the demand for lower cost products in Japan's domestic solar module market has increased, and the market share of overseas manufacturers with strong price competitiveness has been increasing. Mitsubishi Electric said that due to the changes in the market environment, the market evaluation of the company's long-term reliability of advantageous products and the advantages that can be set on narrow roofs has decreased, so it decided to terminate the manufacturing and sales of the company's brand solar modules.

Mitsubishi Electric will strengthen the provision of renewable energy products, systems and services through business cooperation within the group in the future. In addition, with regard to the financing of the necessary solar power generation system, Mitsubishi Electric will cooperate with Kyocera, and put forward a sales plan for Kyocera's products through its own sales channels.

In addition, with the end of the manufacturing and sales of Mitsubishi Electric's solar power generation equipment, the consolidated performance forecast for March 2020 will not be revised.

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