Solar Frontier names new CEO

Solar Frontier has named Atsuhiko Hirano its chief executive, at a time when the Japanese thin-film PV giant is about to embark on a major international expansion programme.

Hirano, currently senior vice president, will take the reins on 31 July at Solar Frontier, which recently recorded its first full year of profit.

Meanwhile, current president Hiroto Tamai will assume the role of Solar Frontier chairman, while retaining his position as chief operating officer for Showa Shell’s Energy Solutions business, of which Solar Frontier forms the backbone.

Solar Frontier, the world’s largest maker of CIGS thin-film modules, is a 100% subsidiary of Showa Shell, whose primary business is oil refining. Showa Shell is partly owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hirano will take control of Solar Frontier at a pivotal time for the company. Having built up more than 1GW of production capacity in Japan and established a position of leadership there, Solar Frontier is currently deciding where to site its first overseas factory – with New York state and the Middle East both known to be on the short list.

In April Solar Frontier signed a memorandum of understanding with State University of New York to study the possibility of establishing a joint research and manufacturing facility in the city of Buffalo.

“This is an important time for our company as we make strategic decisions that impact our future,” Hirano says.

Separately, Solar Frontier announced the appointment of three new senior vice presidents – Satoru Kuriyagawa, the current chief technology officer; Tamoaki Ito, who has led operations at Solar Frontier’s MP2 plant; and Judy Lee, who has consulted with the company for the past four years.

Kuriyagawa will continue to lead Solar Frontier’s technology and production divisions, but will take on a larger role in other areas, including the company’s global expansion plans.