Suntech vs. Sanyo – The Solar Panel Battle For Japan

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Suntech and Sanyo, two leading manufacturers of solar panels, have been beating the corporate drums recently over their plans to increase market share in Japan

Sanyo last week announced a goal of becoming the top manufacturer in the expanding Japanese solar panel market by 2013 by winning a 40% slice (in megawatts).

Aside from its Japanese roots and reputation for quality, Sanyo is pinning its hopes on its HIT solar panel technology to give it an edge in the local market. The Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin-layer (HIT) solar cell is a hybrid model that combines a crystalline silicon substrate and an amorphous silicon thin film. According to the company, it offers the world’s highest power generation level per installation area due to superior energy conversion efficiency and temperature characteristics.

On the same day as Sanyo’s announcement, Suntech Power Japan Corp, a unit of Suntech Power Holdings Co., announced it will begin selling solar power generation systems for new homes early next year.

Suntech Japan has inked deals with around 10 midsize home builders and will have them install solar power systems when they build custom and ready-built homes. Suntech Power Holdings, based in China, is the world’s third largest solar panel manufacturer in terms of production volume. Suntech solar panels are a popular choice in Australia for residential solar power systems.

The coming year is considered to be the Japanese solar market’s salad days due to government subsidies and the New Purchase System for Solar Power-Generated Electricity, which started on November 1, 2009. The program is essentially a net feed in tariff; paying generators of electricity from solar power systems a premium rate of approximately 60c Australian per kilowatt hour for surplus electricity fed into the main grid.

Japan was the sixth largest country market for solar photovoltaics in 2008. While the non-residential solar panel market in Japan has been growing it still only represents just over 10% of the Japanese domestic PV market

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