Kyocera says PV output steady despite domestic plant closure

The Kyoto-based group has confirmed that it has gradually scaled back production at a facility in Mie prefecture, near the city of Nagoya, since last year and now no longer produces PV modules at the site. The company has shifted output from the Mie factory to a plant in adjacent Shiga prefecture, in addition to a facility run by an undisclosed Japanese subcontractor.

“It is a structural reform to continually expand our business and not a downsizing of our business,” a Kyocera spokesperson said by email. “We are not necessarily reducing our production amount.”

However, the company’s competitors — including thin-film PV specialist Solar Frontier and Panasonic — have scaled back module output in Japan over the past year or so, underscoring falling demand for PV systems in Japan, in line with revisions to the government’s feed-in tariff (FIT) system and the introduction of an auction system for projects above 2 MW in size.

In January, Kyocera reported a third-quarter net profit of ¥34,699 million ($311.9 million), up sharply from ¥8,712 million during the same period a year earlier. It performed strongly — largely on the strength of its automotive and communications components businesses — despite what it described as falling demand for PV systems in Japan.

The company — which will release its fiscal 2016 results on May 1 — has been involved in some of Japan’s highest-profile solar installations in recent years. It built the 70 MW Nanatsujima project in Kagoshima prefecture, which was among the country’s biggest solar arrays when it was completed in 2014. And it aims to finish building Japan’s largest floating PV array — a 13.7 MW installation on a dam in Chiba prefecture — at some point in the current fiscal year.