Solar Frontier to build 13MW in Japan

Solar Frontier has reached an agreement to construct and run 13MW of solar in northern Japan.

The Tokyo-based thin-film PV specialist plans to start building the project from next March with the municipal authorities in the historical town of Hiraizumi, Iwate prefecture.

Solar Frontier, the world's biggest producer of CIGS thin-film modules, expects to running the plant at some point in 2016.

The project will be built on 35.8 hectares of commercial land in Kagonezawa district, Hiraizumi, which is situated roughly 80km south of the Iwate prefectural capital of Morioka.

The electricity, enough to supply the annual electricity needs of most of Hiraizumi's 2,630 households, will be sold to regional utility Tohoku Electric Power.

Some of the funds generated by the plant will be used to preserve the town of Hiraizumi, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in June 2011.

The company is rapidly building its presence in Japan's Tohoku region. In December, it announced plans to start CIS thin-film PV module production in March 2015 at a new 150MW factory it plans to build in Miyagi prefecture.

And earlier this week, Solar Frontier selected senior vice president Atsuhiko Hirano as its new chief executive, just as the Showa Shell Sekiyu subsidiary prepares to expand its global operations.

With more than 1GW of production capacity in Japan, the company is poised to set up a production base overseas, possibly in New York state or at a site somewhere in the Middle East.

In April it signed a memorandum of understanding with State University of New York to study the possibility of opening a joint research and manufacturing hub in the city of Buffalo.