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Sharp to use SunPower for some PV production, reports say

Sharp has agreed to outsource production of some of its residential solar modules to US-based SunPower from this month as part of the troubled Japanese company's ongoing restructuring efforts, according to a report.

It is the first time that Sharp will sell panels made by a third-party manufacturer under its own brand, says the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

Recharge was unable to contact Sharp's spokesperson to confirm the report.

Sharp produced more than 1GW of solar modules in 2011, making it the world’s sixth-largest manufacturer, according to data from Lux Research.

However, the electronics giant is in the midst of a company-wide restructruring programme aimed at slashing costs as it prepares to record losses worth 250bn yen ($3bn) this year.

The agreement with SunPower raises the possibility that the Japanese firm may close more panel production facilities, as it continues to review its solar business as part of its restructuring efforts.

Profits at Sharp’s solar business have been hit by falling prices, competition from Chinese companies and a stronger yen.

It is already set to halt output at three factories by next September, with plans to focus panel production at its Sakai plant in Osaka, says the Yomiuri report.

SunPower announced a plan earlier in the week to extend its panel supply agreement with Toshiba until 2018. Under this arrangement, first signed in 2010, the US firm will provide Toshiba with 100MW of residential solar panels for sale in Japan each year.

The decision to extend the supply agreement highlights Total-owned SunPower's rapid advance into Asia, as it tries to offset the impact of falling European demand for solar panels.