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Sharp Solar Modules (Silicon,Thin Film) – All that is to Know

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Sharp is the largest solar company in the world by revenues and has been so for the last few years despite massively increasing competition from Chinese  Solar Panel Producers.While other Japanese conglomerates like Sanyo,Mitsubishi and Kyocera have substantially lost solar panel marketshare ,Sharp has managed to retain its leadership position.Though companies like First Solar and Suntech have shipped more solar modules than Sharp,in terms of total dollar sales Sharp is still on top.Sharp which used to make polycrystalline and monocrystalline silicon solar panels has diversified into producing thin film amorphous silicon solar panels.The company has also entered the solar IPP and solar development business in collaboration with Enel Green Power and by acquiring a US Solar Developer Recurrent Energy.However in core solar panel production,Sharp has much higher costs and has lost money consistently.Sharp sells Solar Systems and Solar Inverters as well as Solar Modules.However the challenges in the solar market are considerable with well funded low cost competitors from China and South Korea.Sharp faces the toughest years of its solar history as it fights to survive in this cut throat Solar Market

Sharp Solar Business Model and Strategy Changes

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

Sharp becomes an Independent Power Producer (IPP)

Sharp alongwith STM and Enel is building a 160 MW factory in Italy in an unused STM fab to manufacture a-Si modules using Sharp technology.This plant which is getting a Euro 49 million grant from the Italian government will ultimately manufacture 480 MW modules per year.Alongwith this JV between these 3 companies named 3Sun,Sharp is also entering the Independent Power Producer (IPP) business.It has formed a 50:50 JV with  Enel Green Power’s to build power plants using these a-Si modules in the EMEA region.This JV has set a target of 500 MW of solar installations in the next 5 years.

Sharp shifts it solar factories out of Japan

Sharp which has managed till now to survive with its high costs in Japan factories too is now facing the pressure.Japanese market is highly protectionist with majority of the demand going to  Japanese zaibatsus.The Japanese government is helping Solar Companies with subsidies/diplomacy to sell Japanese solar panels in Asia and Africa.Sharp now is being forced to move off the islands of  Japan as the high cost of labor and currency makes it uncompetitive in the fiercely cutthroat solar panel global market.Sharp has a giant thin film silicon factory in Sakai and cell/module operations spread out in Japan.It will now manufacture more of its cells/modules overseas to cut down on the cost which are much higher than the Chinese.Note while Sharp is still a long way in suffering the fate of the likes of Evergreen Solar,there is no doubt that it is under huge pressure.

Sharp Solar Shingles

Sharp also sells solar shingles in the form of 64 watt  solar panels .The Sharp ND62RU1F is a group of solar shingles all arranged together.It is not really a solar shingle since it does not integrate into the roof but its light since its made of  thin film silicon technology and easy to install.

Sharp Thin Film Solar Panels

Sharp has started shipping a-Si modules from its 1 GW capacity plant in Sakai. 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.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 Crystalline Solar Panels is not a good idea for Customers because of high Sharp Solar Panel Prices

Sharp due to its factories in high cost locations makes solar panels at a much higher cost and sells them at much higher prices as well.The reason is that they manage to sell so many solar panels is that consumers are  not educated about other better options and the other solar panel companies don’t have the distribution networks..It makes sense to buy directly from those companies at a cheaper cost than from Sharp.There are also much cheaper solar panels from other bigger Chinese companies like Suntech,Yingle as well.Sharp can say that they have a better quality but that does not work in a commodity business of solar panels.Note Solar Panels are no LCD Tvs and the quality difference between Sharp and Korean Solar Panel from LG will be hardly anything to justify the 40-50% higher price of Sharp Solar Panels compared to the cheapest solar panel from other companies.

Sharp Solar Panels Reviews

Sharp produces solar panels in a number of locations selling more than 1000 Megawatts of Solar Panels or roughly 50 million solar panels in one year.Sharp has a factory in Memphis USA for making pv panels which qualifies the company for Buy American provision under ARRA.The company is also one of the biggest solar panel producers in UK.Sharp Solar has got the biggest distribution network globally for solar panels.This means its provide good service and warranty for its solar products.Sharp also qualifies for the Ontario FIT Domestic Content Requirments.

Sharp Solar Panels are sold for all 3 segments residential,utility and commercial.

Sharp Thin Film Solar Panels

Sharp is currently targeting the utility segment with its Amorphous Silicon Thin Film Modules.The Company is selling the following models some of which are IEC certified and some are UL certified.It also sells a frameless thin film solar panel.

  • NS-F135G5    Frameless Thin Film
  • NA-V121HR    IEC Thin Film
  • NA-V128HR    IEC Thin Film
  • NA-V142H5   IEC Thin Film
  • NA-V115H1    UL Thin Film
  • NA-V121H1    UL Thin Film
  • NA-V128H1    UL Thin Film
  • NA-V135H1    UL Thin Film

Sharp 235 watt solar panel

Sharp sells a number of 235 Watt Solar Panels in different configurations.Under the Commercial Segment it sells 3 Solar Panel Models

  1. ND-235QCJ
  2. NU-U235F2
  3. ND-U235Q2
  4. NU-Q235F2

For the Residential Segment,Sharp sells the NU-Q235f4 model which has a  Black  backsheet and sleek black frame .The 235 Solar Watt Panel has is made using Monocrystalline Technology with a 14.4% Efficiency ( which is quite stardard to normal mono cells panels).It  has 60 6 inch solar cells and has 19 kg weight

Sharp sells Solar Panels in a number of power ratings using both poly and mono technology.The more popular Sharp Solar Panels are the Sharp 230 Watt Solar Panel, sharp 175 watt solar panels  and sharp solar panels 230 Watts

Sharp Solar Warranty

Sharp gives a performance warranty of 25 years .Sharp is one of the oldest players in the solar market and the company is known to produce one of the best quality solar panels in the world.However the high cost of Sharp Solar Panels are a deterrent when much cheaper alternatives exist in the industry.Though the quality is better for Sharp Solar Panels the price premium is too high at more than 50% to recommend buying a Sharp Solar Panel.

Read more about Thin Film Solar Panel Manufacturers  and Cheap Solar Panel Brands


Abhishek Shah

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