Canadian Solar Arrives in Japan
According to MarketWatch, the world’s fifth largest solar panel maker has announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in the country by 2013. MarketWatch said that if the company accomplishes its goal according to plan, it would become the first foreign manufacturer to produce solar panels in Japan.
Each year, the new facility will reportedly manufacture solar panels with a combined capacity of 150 megawatts. The total investment amount that Canadian Solar will commit to the project is estimated at several billion yen.
Yu Kaname, president of Canadian Solar Japan K.K., explained the company’s motivation behind the investment, saying: “It will be more efficient to produce [the solar panels] where consumers will be using them.”
MarketWatch noted that Canadian Solar Inc., which currently imports its solar panels from China, is evaluating several prospective sites for the investment. The geographic location of these sites has also been strategically selected — in the Fukushima region and other areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
In addition to building the solar panel plant, the company has plans to establish a training facility to educate workers on how to properly carry out solar panel maintenance and other works. The goal is to create more job opportunities in the disaster-struck region.
According to MarketWatch, Canadian Solar Inc. produces cost-effective, high-quality solar photovoltaic (PV) products and currently holds an estimated three percent of the Japanese market. Company officials hope to raise this market share to 10 percent in the next five years.
MarketWatch said that Canadian Solar isn’t the only firm rushing to claim a piece of the Japanese renewable energy market. According to the online publication, China’s Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. and SunEdison, an energy service provider based in the US, have also recently announced their full-fledged entry into Japan.!m(/uploads/story/35/thumbs/solar_japan_inline.png)
At home, manufacturers are following suit. MarketWatch reported that Sharp Corp., Kyocera Corp., Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Panasonic Corp. are all striving to expand businesses targeting households and industrial companies after demand for renewable energy increased as a result of the earthquake disaster in Japan and some recent government-backed incentives.
MarketWatch cited figures by Yano Research Institute, a Japanese private marketing research company, which indicated that the Japanese market for solar systems in 2010 saw an increase by 70 percent from the previous year, reaching an estimated JPY655.3 billion in value.
The Japanese government has also stepped up its renewable energy efforts as the last operating nuclear power reactor in the country was recently shut down. Officials adopted a feed-in tariff scheme, and starting in July of this year, utility companies will be required to purchase power from renewable sources at a price of 42 yen ($0.52) per kilowatt hour (kwh) for solar energy, 30-35 yen/kwh for small-scale hydropower and 23 yen/kwh for wind power. Depending on the source of energy, these fixed rates can be applied for 10 to 20 years.
Hiroshi Hamasaki, energy expert at Fujitsu Research Institute, speculates that government incentives have the potential to expand the renewables sector in the country 200-fold in three years.
Hamasaki told BusinessWeek: “There will be a boom close to a bubble, with many companies rushing to enter the market over the next three to five years.”
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