Solar Frontier’s five-year roadmap calls for reducing the cost of its market leading, copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaics by 50 percent. The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Show Shell Sekiyu K.K., plans to become a world leader, particularly as the Japanese feed-in tariff makes it one of the biggest PV markets in the world.
During the company’s full-year 2012 results, reported Feb. 14, the company said it is taking a number of steps to develop new business models. “We launched several solar power generation projects in Kunitomi-cho, Miyazaki as an individual solar power supply distributor,” it said. It’s also planing to create an engineering, procurement, and construction business (EPC) for power generation plants, like both SunPower and First Solar have done. To accomplish this, Solar Frontier K.K. partnered with German company BELECTRIC to create a new joint venture company.
Showa followed up on that on Feb. 18, with elaboration about the company’s five-year plan, during which Showa President Jun Arai elaborated on the increasingly important role it wants solar to play in its business as the company seeks to be a global competitor in the solar market. First the company will increase its efforts in Japan. “Once we gain a foothold in Japan, we want to gain ground in the international market,” Showa Shell President Jun Arai said at a press briefing. The company is seeking to reduce the cost of its PV devices by about half in 2017, he said.
Over the same time it plans to become a global leader on the cost-competitive and efficiency propositions of its CIGS technology. The company announced that its CIGS cells have reached energy conversion efficiency of 19.7 percent, which it called a new world record for a compact CIGS cell.
In its five-year plan, the company said it will establish itself as the leader in Japan with full turnkey solutions, increase production while driving down costs at its Kunitomi Plant, develop products that differentiate it in the market. “After realizing number 1 position in Japanese market…we aim to offer customers ‘the most economical and ecological solar power system in the world.’,” the company said.
The company said it also working on developing a next-generation thin-film PV that uses some different components than CIGS cells. For that effort, it its developing CZTS (copper, zinc, tin, sulfur, and selenium) thin-film solar modules. It’s working with IBM on that research and has achieved an 11.1 percent energy conversion efficiency with those materials. It will also support that work through a joint research projects with Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).