Solar Frontier restarts No.2 fab

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While few photovoltaic manufacturers can boast high utilization rates, Japan’s Solar Frontier is continuing to benefit from the continuing solar boom in the country. At last month’s PV Expo Tokyo, Solar Frontier told pv magazine that its 900 MW nameplate Kunitomi fab is currently running at between 600 and 700 MW throughput. It now appears to be developing diversified product offerings for the market, with the restarting of its 60 MW Miyazaki fab.

At the end of 2012 Solar Frontier announced that commercial production at the fab was being wound up, with the facility being used for R&D and equipment testing. This decision has now been changed with today’s announcement that the fab is being restarted. The statement says that with "minor equipment modifications" new products could be developed for the Japanese market.

The Solar Frontier statement continues that its products are being favored in the Japanese market because of the "Made in Japan" label. Previously the company had boasted that it is the only domestic manufacturer that can claim its products are 100% Japanese made. Crystalline silicon manufacturers in Japan often utilize Taiwanese or Chinese photovoltaic cells.

Solar Frontier, which is a subsidiary of oil giant Showa Shell Sekiyu, is also developing its downstream capability. Earlier this month it announced the grid connection of the first project it has developed with EPC Belectric in the country. It claims to be able to provide customers, looking to benefit from Japan’s generous FITs, with a "one stop" shop for developing solar installations.