Panasonic solar sales slide on weak Japanese demand

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Yesterday Panasonic released its financial results for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, reporting a 3% fall in sales in its Eco Solutions business to ¥1.61 trillion (US$14.8 billion). Additionally, the division’s profit has fallen 18% to ¥78.4 billion, representing a slim 5% margin. Panasonic’s FY 2016 ended March 31.

Panasonic says that this decline was mainly due to “sales decrease in solar photovoltaic systems for house-use in Japan”. In February Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that the company was shuttering a 270 MW PV cell factory in Japan, due to flagging demand.

Panasonic makes high-efficiency PV modules for the residential and small commercial market, using a heterojunction design. The company is not alone in reporting weakness in the Japanese market, and earlier this week Kyocera reported a fall in revenues in its division which makes solar PV modules. Kyocera also cited weakness in the Japanese market.

?Japan cut its feel-in tariff 11% to ¥33 (US$0.31) per kilowatt-hour for systems under 10 kW a year ago. While this level remains generous compared to other nations, Japan has very high system costs, and market participants are complaining of weakness in all market segments.

These statements are supported out by the latest data from the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA), which finds that PV cell and module shipments in Japan have fallen on both a quarterly and monthly basis following a peak in the first three months of calendar year 2015.

Panasonic also reports that investment in “towards future growth” in its automotive and battery storage businesses impacted the results of its Automotive & Industrial Systems Division. In partnership with Tesla, Panasonic is building the world’s largest manufacturing facility for lithium-ion batteries in Nevada, which was scheduled to begin production earlier this year.