Targeting at the booming demand to residential solar systems in Japan, Panasonic plans to invest up to 10 billion yen (approximately US$83 million) in expanding capacity of PV cell production. With the expansion, Panasonic’s total PV cell capacity will reach 1GW.
Nikkei BP reports that Panasonic currently has a total capacity of 900MW (900,000 kW) per year in its Malaysian plant ant three Japanese plants. With the 10 billion yen investment in a plant in Shiga Prefecture and another one in Shimane Prefecture, the PV cell production capacity would be raised around 10% to near 1GW a year. The major expansion will be PV cells for residential use. The investment will be carried out by fiscal year 2017.
More than 100 billion yen of Panasonic’s revenue is earned through the solar cell business, which focuses on PV systems smaller than 10kW. While Panasonic’s market share places the fourth in overall domestic sales of solar cells, the company ranks first in the residential solar cells. By fiscal year 2018, Panasonic aims to increase its group sales from housing-related business to 2 trillion yen, up from 1.3 trillion yen for fiscal year 2014.
It is not clear about what kind of PV cell production portfolio Panasonic will invest in at the moment. However, it is highly possible that Panasonic will focus on high efficiency products on the basis of aiming to further develop the company’s “housing-related business,” commented Corrine Lin, an analyst at EnergyTrend.
(Photo: Panasonic's booth at Smart Grid EXPO 2015 in Japan.)