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IQE

8 January 2014

Japan’s Solar Frontier to build its fourth CIS PV module manufacturing plant

In December, Tokyo-based Solar Frontier – the largest manufacturer of CIS (copper indium selenium) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar modules – announced that it is to construct a CIS solar module manufacturing plant on a 70,000m2 site in the No.2 Sendai North Central Industrial Park of Ohiramura, Miyagi Prefecture in the Tohoku region of Japan.

With a total floor area of 15,000m2 and a planned workforce of about 100, the Tohoku Plant’s nominal annual production capacity will be 150MW. Production should start in March 2015. This will be Solar Frontier’s fourth manufacturing facility, following its three plants in Miyazaki.

Concept of Tohoku PlantPicture: Concept image of completed Tohoku Plant.

The Tohoku Plant will leverage Solar Frontier’s latest mass-production technology, incorporating features that increase manufacturing process efficiencies. This should enable the manufacture of high-performance CIS solar modules at improved conversion efficiencies and cost levels, it is reckoned. The plant will also serve as a blueprint for future manufacturing facilities outside Japan, in line with worldwide growth in demand and Solar Frontier’s mid-term plans to build future plants outside Japan.

Solar Frontier plans to invest about 13bn yen to build the plant, including a Domestic Business Promotion Grant from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), a Miyagi Business Promotion Grant from Miyagi Prefecture, and a promotion subsidy from Ohiramura for the entry of new enterprises. Products manufactured at the Tohoku Plant will be intended mainly for sale in the local region.

“By extending new mass-production technologies proven at the Tohoku Plant to manufacturing and sales outside of Japan, Solar Frontier will establish itself as a strong global player,” says Hiroto Tamai, president & representative director at Solar Frontier. “By constructing the Tohoku Plant, Solar Frontier will help to revitalize the Tohoku economy, through collaboration with local industries and the creation of new jobs,” he adds.

In 2013, Solar Frontier celebrated the 20th anniversary of its R&D work on CIS technology. The firm has grown steadily since opening its first 20MW plant in 2007, growing revenue in the residential, commercial and utility-scale markets. It now has gigawatt-scale manufacturing capacity, including the Kunitomi Plant (one of the world’s largest), which opened in 2011 in Miyazaki. Its production processes are claimed to be much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than those used to manufacture crystalline silicon PV modules.

Solar Frontier has also developed products and systems that deliver high added value, including the thin, lightweight Solacis neo module from its 60MW MP2 factory, its CrossOne installation system for rooftop applications, and its optimized utility-scale systems. In R&D, in January 2013 Solar Frontier achieved record conversion efficiency of 19.7% with a cadmium-free thin-film solar cell (of about 0.5cm2 in area).

See related items:

Solar Frontier re-starts production at 60MW Miyazaki No.2 Plant

Tags: Solar Frontier CIS

Visit: www.solar-frontier.com

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