world’s fifth largest solar module maker, plans to build a plant in Japan as
early as fiscal 2013 to become the first foreign manufacturer to produce solar
panels in the country, company sources said Saturday.
The Ontario-based firm is among the domestic and overseas companies vying to
strengthen their position in the Japanese market as a new government incentive
program starting this July is expected to spur demand for green energy in the
wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
The company already announced in March a separate project to construct a
2,000-kilowatt mega solar plant in Tsu, Mie Prefecture with the aim to launch
operation by March 2013.
“It will be more efficient to produce (the solar panels) where consumers will
be using them,” Yu Kaname, president of Canadian Solar Japan K.K., said of the
decision to manufacture domestically to meet the anticipated demand in Japan.
The firm currently imports its solar panels from China.
The company is reviewing candidate sites in Fukushima Prefecture and other
areas devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It also is
considering including a training center for solar-panel maintenance and other
works at the new plant to help boost employment in the disaster-hit region.
Canadian Solar, which boasts high-quality solar photovoltaic products and
low-cost structures, currently has a roughly 3% share of the Japanese market and
aims to raise this to 10% in five years.
Under the government’s renewable-energy feed-in tariff scheme, major electric
utilities will be required to buy all electricity generated in principle from
solar power by companies, households and others for 42 yen ($0.52) per
kilowatt-hour, including sales tax, a price almost equivalent to that demanded
by green-energy providers.
“Japan has set a high buyback price, which is very attractive, so there is no
reason for foreign companies not to enter the market,” said Hiroharu Watanabe, a
senior analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.