Panasonic, a top-four PV manufacturers in Japan, plans to streamline its PV production businesses amidst the weak market. Panasonic will reallocate its power conditioner production capacities in Japan, and will remain low utilization rates for PV cell productions until the end of 2016.
According to a Nikkei report, Panasonic currently sources power conditioners (inverter included) from three related Japanese firms, which are Techno Device in Tochigi Prefecture, Shimane Sanyo Denki in Shimane Prefecture, and Panasonic-owned Tsushi City factory in Mie Prefecture. Panasonic will reallocate all the capacities by suspending production in Tsushi factory and choose Shimane or Tochigi factory to produce the power conditioners. The final decision is expected to be made during this year.
As for PV cells, Panasonic has suspended production in its Nishikinohama factory in Osaka since this February due to weakening demand. Although Panasonic originally planned to restart production in the factory this Fall, the company estimates that it is difficult to make the restart profitable. The market demand remains flat over the past months and is projected to be weak in the short-term. As a result, Panasonic will reevaluate if it were beneficial to restart the cell production in Nishikinohama factory by the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, Panasonic has reduced capacity utilization rate at Shimane PV cell factory down to approximately 50%.
The Nikkei report cited Panasonic and said that the company is negative to a strong warm-up in Japan’s PV market in the future. Panasonic’s PV cell shipments in fiscal year 2015 rapidly decreased over 30% compared to fiscal year 2014, and the decline caused a significant revenue drop. Panasonic believes the weakening demand is directly relevant to Japan government’s policy of cutting the Feed-in Tariffs for renewable energy resources.
Panasonic is Japan’s largest residential PV product supplier. In this April, Panasonic establish a new branch combining solar PV cells, power conditioning equipment, and Home Energy Management System (HEMS) solutions for possible collaborations with businesses and house builders.