All eyes continue to be focused on the Japanese photovoltaic market with Hanwha doubling its sales efforts in the country. Hanwha can supply Chinese and European-made modules into Japan, having expanded its operations through the acquisition of Chinas Solarfun and Germanys Q.Cells, in 2010 and 2012 respectively.
Hanwha SolarOne, which is part of the Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group, is also geographically well situated to work closely with Japanese suppliers.
Japan Daily Press reports that Hanwha signed a supply deal with Japanese trading firm Marunbeni last year, that it will supply 500 MW of modules to it through to 2016.
pv magazine has contacted Hanwha for more details as to its Japanese activities.
Figures from Japan show that domestic producers are also remaining strongly focused on their home market for the bulk of their activities. Q1 figures from the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA) have shown that domestic shipments now consume 90% of production from Japanese photovoltaic manufacturers including Sharp, Kyocera, Sanyo and Mitsubishi Electric.
Thin film producer Solar Frontier is also firmly focused on its own backyard, and reports are the its 900 MW Kunitomi plant is now running at full utilization and it has restarted production at its older 60 MW plant. At the recent SNEC, a material supplier to Solar Frontier told pv magazine that currently its warehouses are close to empty despite its ramped production.
Intriguingly, and in trend that goes against the global patterns, thin film producers are making headway against their silicon rivals in the Japanese market. Q4 2012 market figures from JPEA show that thin film accounted for 21% of the market in the quarter. This is up from 4% in Q1 2010. Solar Frontier is largely leading this charge.
Japanese producers are also becoming increasingly involved in project development, with Solar Frontier managers reporting that the firm is leveraging its experience as being one of the country’s most experienced energy suppliers. Solar Frontier is majority owned by Show Shell Sekiyu.
In terms of external suppliers SunPower is also enjoying success in the market, reporting in its Q1 financial results that it is experiencing a period of strong demand from the Japanese market.