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Solar Leader Sharp shifting its Focus from Crystalline Solar to Amorphous Silicon Thin Film Technology

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Sharp,the Japanese Zaibatsu known more for its Electronics Products is also the world’s No 1 Company in terms Solar Module Revenues.Sharp has been the solar world leader since the past 4-5 years despite stiff competition recently  from upcoming Chinese Crystalline Solar (c-Si) players and Thin Film Leader First Solar.The Chinese have gained almost 50% of the world’s marketshare in Q409 from a non existent share in 2006 boosted by their low cost production .First Solar through its world beating Cadmium Tellerium(CdTe) Thin Film Technology has also managed to vault itself to the No.2 position in 2009.

Japanese Solar Companies Losing Marketshare to Cheaper Asian Rivals

Sharp’s c-Si division is not cost competitive with the Chinese and Taiwanese companies as its cost structure is almost 30-40% higher than the cheapest Chinese producers.Though the quality of Sharp’s crystalline silicon modules is considered much better,the cost difference has become too big in a rapidly commoditizing industry.Sharp has managed to retain its No.1 position mainly due to its large captive home market of Japan.In other places like US and Europe it has rapidly lost marketshare to aggressive Chinese companies like Trina Solar,Yingli and Suntech.Other Japanese Solar Heavyweights like Kyocera,Panasonic-Sanyo and Mitsubishi have suffered even worse marketshare losses.Lack of focus and high costs have combined to move most of the Japanese to lose out in world solar rankings to the Chinese.These companies have tried to improve their cost competitiveness through outsourcing of cell production to Taiwanese cell companies like Motech,DelSolar and others.However the sharp decline in module prices have made even this strategy unsuccessful

Thin Film Technology sees Massive Attrition

Thin Film Technology has face a difficult recent 2-3 years as sharp decline in Poly Silicon prices have led to more than 50% decline in the competing c-Si module prices.Amorphous Silicon Technology has seen many casualties as a-Si equipment leader Applied Materials much heralded SunFab turneky a-Si faces a life and death situation.Other players like Oerlikon have also not fared well.While companies like Masdar are abandoning their Thin Film plans,Sharp has started shipping a-Si modules from its 1 GW capac ity plant in Sakai.With its established distribution strengths and technological abilities in LCD Technology,Sharp is one company that can survive the c-Si onslaught.With most of the a-Si thin film competitors bankrupt or in a moribund state,Sharp can capitalize to completely capture this space.However the cost structure of Sharp is not clearly known right now to make a clear call on how this will turn out.Also a 10% efficiency while decent for a-Si technology fall far short of the 13% claims by CIGS startups like Miasole.

Sharp starts production at 1GW capacity thin-film plant- PV-Tech

With an initial production capacity of 160MW, Sharp has started volume production at its 1GW a-Si thin-film plant in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, Japan. According to the company, the new facility will be a model plant for future Sharp thin-film solar cell plants around the world.A new tandem-junction a-Si module with ~10% conversion rates will also enter volume production at the new plant in Japan.

Sharp Supplies Thin-Film Solar Cells for Solar Power Generation Plant in the Kingdom of Thailand – MarketWatch

Sharp Corporation has signed an agreement with NED(2) to establish one of the world’s largest(1) solar power generation plants with a power generation capacity of 73 MW, and to supply thin-film solar cell modules and surrounding systems for the plant. The construction of the solar power generation plant will start in July 2010 and the operation is planned to start by the end of 2011.

Thin-film solar cells are optimal for use in a high-temperature climate, compared to crystalline solar cells. Sharp’s experience in the mass production of thin-film solar cells has enabled Sharp to take part in this project. The thin-film solar cell modules to be used in the power generation plant will be supplied partially from Sharp’s solar cell plant at GREEN FRONT SAKAI in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, which started operation in March 2010

MiaSolé Sets World Record for Highest Efficiency of Commercial Scale Thin-Film Solar Modules.

MiaSolé, the leading manufacturer of copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic solar panels, today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) independently
confirmed the 13.8% efficiency of its large area production modules (one square meter in size). “We are pleased with our strong continued progress,” said Dr. Joseph Laia, CEO of MiaSolé. “The modules that we ship in 2011 will have efficiencies greater than 13%. The only reason that we are not shipping these modules today is that we are awaiting the completion of our UL certifications.”


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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