Panasonic’s solar PV sales suffer from Japanese market weakness

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Today Japanese electronics giant Panasonic released results for the nine months ending on December 31, 2015, in which it reports falling sales for its solar PV products. The Japanese fiscal year ends on March 31, 2016.

Sales in Panasonic’s Eco Solutions division, which includes its high-efficiency Heterojunction Intrinsic Thin Film (HIT) PV modules, energy efficiency solutions and other product lines, fell 3% year-over year.

More significantly, segment profit fell 27%, although the division retained a profit margin of 4.7%. Panasonic blames the decline in segment profit on a “considerable” sales decrease in solar PV systems.

Mercom Capital estimates that Japan’s solar market declined from 9.7 GW installed in calendar year 2014 to 9.5 GW in 2015, and forecasts that the market will fall again to 9 GW in 2016.

Panasonic has been a global leader in high-efficiency solar through its HIT PV products. HIT features a layer of crystalline silicon sandwiched between two layers of amorphous silicon, which allows for higher efficiencies and better performance under high-temperature conditions.

The company was the first to produce commercial volumes of heterojunction PV cells and modules for the rooftop PV market. Panasonic also retains the largest installed capacity for this solution at around 1 GW of annual module production.

Most of this is sold into the Japanese market, however Panasonic told pv magazine that it is looking to expand its international sales. Panasonic will be seeing competition in this space from SolarCity, whose 1 GW “gigafactory” in upstate New York will produce heterojunction PV modules using Silevo’s technology.