Sharp ends solar JV with Enel

Japanese electronics giant Sharp retreated further from the European solar market today when it announced it will end its project development joint venture with Enel Green Power (EGP).

Sharp said it will pull out of ESSE, the JV it set up with Italy's EGP in 2010 to develop 500MW of thin-film PV plants in southern Europe by 2016.

As part of the exit arrangements, EGP has undertaken to buy the modules that Sharp had previously agreed to purchase from 3Sun, the module manufacturer that the two companies jointly own in conjunction with STMicroelectronics.

Sharp will, however, remain part of the 3Sun joint venture.

In a statement explaining the decision, Sharp said: “In the face of a deterioration in the European economy, revisions of the feed-in tariff policies of major countries, and the more sudden than expected drop in market prices for solar cell modules and other changes of the business environment, it became necessary for Sharp to restructure its solar-cell business in Europe.”

Sharp will book a 14.3bn yen ($142m) one-off loss as part of its quarterly financial figures as a result of the restructuring.

The company said its solar focus is to move towards EPC business at “mega-solar” plants.

Sharp has already said it will end module production in the UK, but business is booming in Asia and its domestic market in particular.

The Osaka-based electronics group delivered nearly 750MW of modules in the three months to 31 March, making it the world number-one in the first quarter, according to NPD Solarbuzz.