Japanese thin film module producer Solar Frontier has announced that it has commenced commercial production of its 150 MW CIS Tohoku fab, located in Japans Miyagi Prefecture.
Construction of the plant began in 2014 and was completed in April last year when ramp up of new production lines began. Solar Frontier said that the Tohoku fab can now produce CIS solar panels "of the same grade and higher" as the firms 900 MW Kunitomi plant.
Modules built at Tohoku will go on sale locally in the summer, and will then be introduced nationwide in Japan before being made available internationally at a later date.
Once at full production, the plant is expected to begin delivering modules with 180W output and an array of other benefits for installers and end-users, such as the addition of a busbar in the middle of the module, which allows for better performance under partly shaded conditions.
Solar Frontier also claims that the modules lower voltage will enable greater design flexibility for ground mounted solar plants, and that the panel design has been modified to enable easier installation and maintenance.
When details of the facility were first published, Solar Frontier said that the fab would represent the "next step" in module development, offering a stepping stone towards new technology offering higher efficiencies at lower cost.