Sanyo closes Californian solar facility

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Responding to questions from pv magazine, a source cited Chinese competition and ageing equipment as the main reasons for the closure. "Price competition is heating up with the rise of Chinese manufacturers, and in terms of making dramatic cost reductions, it was judged that the company had little potential of doing so, because of its older equipment with little room for expansion. Even though measures were taken to improve productivity, the SSU could no longer keep up with the falling sales prices of modules, and liquidation was decided upon."

They added that while 140 employees will be affected, Panasonic, of which Sanyo is a subsidiary, is offering them support to find other jobs.

In terms of Sanyo’s other U.S. solar facilities, the source said that the wafer and ingot production site in Oregon, Sanyo Solar of Oregon LLC, is still operating "very competitively". As such, there are no plans to close its doors. Around 200 employees are located there.

Back in November, Panasonic Corporation announced that it would establish a new, vertically-integrated, 300 megawatt solar manufacturing base in Malaysia, Panasonic Energy Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. Expectations are that the facility will begin operations this December, following an investment of 45 billion yen (around US$583 million; €440 million). Approximately1,500 employees will work there.

The source added, "For slicing processes, we intend to make the Malaysian factory our main site for integrated production of cells and modules."

Globally, Sanyo has a solar cell capacity of 565 MW and a module capacity of 680 MW. Below is an overview of its manufacturing sites:

  • Oregon – Ingots and wafers
  • Japan – Nishikinohama and Shimane factories produce cells; Shiga and Nishikinohama factories produce modules
  • Hungary – Modules
  • Mexico – Modules
  • Malaysia – From next year, slicing and cell/module manufacturing

Meanwhile, as of April 1, Sanyo’s HIT photovoltaic modules will become known as Panasonic HIT modules. The move is part of a wider effort by the Panasonic Group to consolidate certain consumer products "in order to take advantage of the strengths of each company within the group".