Boston.com, Good Clean Tech: On March 27, 2008, Sharp announced a JPY72 billion (US$729 million) investment in a new solar cell plant in Sakai, Japan. Sharp is competing with Germany’s Q-Cells and many others. The Sakai thin-film plant will use substrates with a dimension of 1000 x 1400mm. In July 2007, Sharp announced the Sakai-based thin-film solar plant would become operational in March 2010 but did not disclose the capital invesment. The annual capacity of the plant is expected to be 480 megawatts at first and has the potential to grow to a space-limited 1000MW.
The thin-film solar plant will be built next to Sharp’s JPY380 billion LCD fab. Thin-film solar is relatively new to semiconductor-based solar chips but requires just one-hundredth of the silicon that leads to potential cost savings in the future. The company also has plans to build thin-film solar cell plants at international locations to increase total capacity to 1000MW annually by April 2010. Sharp already has a smaller thin-film solar cell production plant that uses substrates with a dimension of 560 x 925mm in Japan’s Nara Prefecture with a current annual capacity of 15MW that will be increased to 160MW by October 2008.