Sharp is planning to double production of solar electricity modules at a factory in Wales, it said Friday.
Behind the planned expansion is growing demand for solar energy systems in several European countries including Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece and France. Sharp said long hours of sunlight coupled with electricity buyback programs, which allow consumers to sell surplus electricity back to the power company, are driving the demand.
The company will invest 2.2 billion yen (US$18.2 million) to take annual production to a total of 220 megawatts of panels. The factory in Wrexham began operations in early 2004 and is Sharp’s second international solar module production base after a manufacturing plant in the United States.
Sharp’s announcement comes on the same day that a major international report is expected to lay the blame for global warming at the feet of humans’ actions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report will be published in Paris later Friday.
Companies and consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the issue, and some are investing vast sums of money in solar power systems that will likely pay off in the long run through lower power bills. Last year Google said it would build a 9,000-panel generation system to power its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. The system will use Sharp panels.
Sharp is one of the world’s largest producers of photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight into electricity. Last year it spent about 3.5 billion yen, increasing production at a factory in Japan to 600 megawatts per year.
-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)
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