Sharp, Softbank propose JV for solar EPC

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Japan’s Sharp Corp. has announced it is to create a joint venture (JV) with Japanese telecoms group SoftBank to deliver augmented engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services to Japan’s solar power industry.

SoftBank’s SB Energy – its Japanese clean solar subsidiary – will, as a majority-owner, be an initial beneficiary of the new firm, and the JV may offer Sharp a lucrative avenue back into a solar industry in which it has struggled to turn a profit in recent years.

According to reports in the Nikkei newspaper, SB Energy will begin its EPC services in the spring of 2016, and will also offer panel installation and operations and maintenance (O&M) services to the 30 solar farms it currently operates.

SB Energy Corp. spokesman Kenichi Yuasa told Bloomberg that the JV will leverage the service contacts and logistics of both firms to cut costs and set up lower-priced solar power stations. Initial capital for the JV will be around $1 million, SoftBank – which entered the solar industry in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011 – confirmed.