Panasonic solar panels at Lizard Island Research Station on Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Panasonic consolidates solar panel production

Panasonic is moving production of photovoltaic panels in Mexico and 30 per cent of the output in Hungary to its Malaysia plant.

The Sanyo Corporation was taken over by Panasonic on 1 April 2012.

Construction of the $613m Panasonic Energy Malaysia (PEM) plant began in March in the northern state of Kedah.

It is expected to start operations in the first quarter of 2013.

A Panasonic spokeswoman in Tokyo, Mizuki Fujii, said the company’s HIT (heterojunction with intrinsic thin-layer) solar modules offer the world’s top level conversion efficiency and the useful feature of temperature dependence, which ensures constant power generation even during the hot summer season.

Sanyo Energy (Mexico), which produced 50MW modules, ceased operations in August, while the cut at Sanyo Hungary will start in October, making 400 jobs redundant.

Panel production in Hungary was 315MW in 2011.

Mizuki said Panasonic will redesign its global production system, using PEM as the main plant to enhance cost competitiveness of solar modules.

Malaysia was chosen as the new base for solar module production because of the country’s good infrastructure and the availability of an abundant high-quality workforce.

PEM is designed for integrated manufacture of solar wafers, cells and modules.

Employing 1,500 people, it will have a production capacity of 300MW a year.

After the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, Japan has gradually been shifting towards renewable energy covering solar, wind, biomass, mini-hydro and geothermal.

With solar being the preferred choice, it is expected to be one of the top markets in the world by 2014.

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