Japanese solar giants promise bumper green investment

Japan’s renewable energy market received a major boost today after both Sharp and Eurus Energy said they would invest billions of dollars in increasing solar and wind energy generation.

The head of Eurus Energy, which is owned by Tokyo Electric Power, told Bloomberg in an interview yesterday that Eurus is considering investing up to 100bn yen ($1.2bn) to expand its wind and solar energy generation by about 50 per cent in the next five years.

Tetsuro Nagata, president and chief executive of Eurus, said he wants to build 1GW of renewable energy projects in addition to the near 2GW the company already owns.

Solar power will account for about 10 per cent of the increase while the rest will be generated from wind power, he said.

Eurus will focus its expansion in Asia and Europe, but also investigate the US market, following president Barack Obama’s call for increased investment in renewable energy.

Nagata told Bloomberg he is especially interested in building wind farms in windier states such as Texas, Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Meanwhile, Sharp today increased its solar panel range, launching a new single crystalline solar cell that the company says boasts improved conversion efficiency. The single cells have electrodes connected on the back of the panel to increase the light-receiving area on the front, the company said.

Sharp plans to start mass producing the cells and modules of the new technology before the end of this financial year from its Osaka-based plant, targeting an annual production capacity of 200MW.

According to Reuters reports, the company is also planning to spend 15bn yen on increasing solar panel production as it attempts to wrest market share from rivals First Solar and Suntech Power.

Sharp has also launched a new alignment technology designed to reduce the connection resistance between adjacent cells, which Sharp hopes will be used in a broad range of applications, including residential and commercial projects.

The news follows Sharp’s recent acquisition of US solar developer Recurrent Energy, which is intended to establish the company as a “one-stop shop” for photovoltaic solar technologies.

The news of the investments came as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said its Asia Solar Energy Initiative, launched in May this year, will increase the amount of solar power generated in the Asia and Pacific region six-fold to 3GW by mid-2013.

ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda urged governments in Asia and the Pacific to invest in solar energy to help ensure environmentally sustainable growth. He said Asia and the Pacific’s high economic growth rates, continuing population growth, and current and projected energy demand gap provide a huge market opportunity and potential for solar energy development.

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