Panasonic focuses on Japan's roofs

Panasonic’s solar division is primarily focusing on the Japanese residential PV market.

“Most of our solar sales are in Japan now,” says spokesman Chieko Gyobu.

Slumping PV demand in Europe has prompted the Osaka company to refocus its strategy on primarily selling its HIT monocrystalline modules – which boast a 24.7% conversion efficiency rate – in Japan. And it specifically designed a modified version of its panels, known as HIT “Half Type” modules, to provide maximum surface coverage on relatively small Japanese rooftops.

Gyobu insists that the electronics giant has not given up on other markets, but Japan has clearly become a central plank of its PV strategy, accounting for 80-90% of its HIT module sales last year, up from about 50% in 2011.

Panasonic also continues to supply its polycrystalline panels for use in utility-scale projects.

In April, it completed its biggest domestic panel order ever, supplying 8,800 of its polycrystalline modules to a 2MW project in the city of Tokushima on the southern island of Shikoku.

“Our strategy is to focus on the residential market in Japan, but we’re not saying [utility-scale] mega-solar is not important,” Gyobu says. “We’re very confident in our HIT modules, and we’re also trying to sell power controllers and battery systems in Japan.”

This week, Panasonic revealed that it was halting wafer production at a plant in the US state of Oregon to consolidate production at a new factory in the Malaysian state of Kedah.

The plant, in the town of Kulim, is the company’s first fully integrated PV production base, producing wafers, cells and complete solar modules. It has an annual production capacity of 300MW.