Solar Frontier's 150 MW Tohoku fab complete, ramp-up phase begins

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Solar Frontier, the Japanese manufacturer of thin film solar modules, announced today that construction has been completed on its 150 MW Tohoku manufacturing facility, revealing that the first task for the plant will be to undergo operation testing of its latest CIS technology.

The fab, which is Solar Frontier’s fourth large-scale manufacturing facilitiy, is located in Miyagi, Japan, and will immediately commence a “ramp-up” phase whereby the company’s upgraded CIS production lines will be put through their paces.

Developed at the company’s Atsugi Research Center, the new CIS lines have been designed to enable best-in-class production costs and new product advantages.

The intention of the Tohoku fab is for it to serve as a model for Solar Frontier’s future production plants as the company embarks on its ambitious expansion and internationalization plans.

The CIS production line at the Tohoku fab builds upon proven production processes used at Solar Frontier’s 900 MW Kunitomi Plant in southern Japan, and will explore ways to make CIS modules even more attractive for global markets, building upon the performance advantages of the technology with new production upgrades.

Speaking to pv magazine when plans for the Tohoku plant were first announced, Brooks Herring, the firm’s vice president, said that the aim is to produce higher efficiencies at lower cost, calling the fab the "next step" in Solar Frontier’s development.

"This is a model plant," he said. "It’s a stepping stone to global expansion with our new technology, and 150 MW represents the size of the line in a multi-line type of factory, when we expand overseas."

That planned expansion has bore fruit in recent weeks, with Solar Frontier in March acquiring a 280 MW pipeline in the U.S., purchasing Gestamp Solar U.S. in the process. The company also signed a 100 MW supply deal with Welspun last month, that will see Solar Frontier expand its presence in India’s growing solar market.