Panasonic to build Malaysian solar cell plant

November 25, 2011

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic said Friday it would build a new solar cell factory in Malaysia, as it looks abroad to cut production costs caused by the surging yen.

The company said it would spend 45 billion yen ($582 million) on the new factory making cells -- a key component of solar panels -- capable of generating 300 megawatts of power.

The factory, in addition to those owned in Japan, will help Panasonic increase by 50 percent its annual production to 900 megawatts by 2013.

Panasonic has cancelled a plan to convert a plasma-television panel plant in western Japan into one that makes solar panels, Dow Jones Newswires reported, citing an unnamed source.

The change in plan was the latest indication of how Japan's solar-panel makers are struggling, as fast-growing Chinese makers create a global inventory glut, while the strong yen makes Japanese exports more expensive.

Panasonic's plant in the northwestern Malaysian state of Kedah, which would employ 1,500 people and start production in December 2012, will strengthen the firm's cost competitiveness, it said.

Panasonic Chief Financial Officer Makoto Uenoyama said last month the yen's surging value -- it is sitting near post-war highs around 77 to the dollar -- made it "extremely difficult to make new business investments in Japan now."

The company is betting the clean energy market will keep growing on the back of government subsidies and heightened environmental awareness, with the March Fukushima nuclear crisis boosting the focus on new energy sources.

Panasonic acquired a majority stake in Sanyo in December 2009, taking over one of the world's biggest suppliers of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and a major player in solar panels, before turning it into a wholly owned unit.

Panasonic and Sanyo are looking to jettison overlapping businesses, with Panasonic aiming to focus on more environmental technology such as rechargeable batteries, solar panels and other energy-saving systems.

The global market landscape for solar panels has changed dramatically in recent years with Chinese solar-cell makers now among the world's biggest producers, helped by Beijing's support for renewable-energy businesses.

Explore further: Panasonic, Sanyo win EU takeover approval

Related Stories

Panasonic, Sanyo win EU takeover approval

September 29, 2009

(AP) -- Panasonic Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co. must sell off a European plant that makes batteries to win EU antitrust approval for the $9 billion deal creating one of the world's biggest electronics makers, the EU said ...

Panasonic completes Sanyo acquisition

December 21, 2009

(AP) -- Panasonic Corp. said Monday that it had taken majority control of Sanyo Electric Co., officially forming one of the world's largest electronics makers.

Panasonic to buy out Sanyo, Panasonic Electric

July 29, 2010

(AP) -- Panasonic is planning to take 100 percent ownership of its subsidiaries Sanyo Electric and Panasonic Electric Works in a move costing up to $9.4 billion to strengthen green businesses such as electric cars and solar ...

Panasonic reports loss, plans to cut 17,000 jobs

April 28, 2011

(AP) -- Panasonic Corp., Japan's biggest home appliance maker, is cutting about 17,000 jobs worldwide over two years as its losses swell from restructuring costs and damage from the March 11 disasters.

S&P downgrades Panasonic one notch to 'A'

November 2, 2011

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's on Wednesday said it had downgraded Japan's Panasonic one notch to "A" with a negative outlook, citing pressure on its digital products such as flat panel TVs.

Recommended for you

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.