Mitsubishi Electric Corp. is planning to invest $70 million in a major expansion of capacity to make photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, to meet what it says is huge growing demand worldwide. Mitsubishi (Tokyo) will boost production at two plants in Japan, aiming to boost capacity from 150 megawatts last year to 500 megawatts by its 2013 financial year.
Annual production capacity of PV cells will be increased at the Nakatsugawa Works Iida Factory (Nagano Prefecture), and of modules at its Nakatsugawa Works in Kyoto. The target is to increase capacity from the already planed 220 MW from October this year, to 500MW by 2013.
The company is forecasting a global PV market size of 1,950MW in fiscal 2008 (April 1, 2007-March 31, 2008), an increase by 26 percent compared to the previous fiscal year, and anticipates demand would continue increasing at an even faster pace.
Japan’s Sharp Corp. said late last year that it would invest $220 million on a 10-fold expansion of production of thin-film solar cells, which it said could be made more quickly and cheaply than conventional solar cells.
Other firms such as Sanyo are also investing in solar power as they seek to tap growing interest in alternative energy.
Separately, Mitsubishi Electric has it achieved a world record in photoelectric conversion efficiency in a 150-millimeter square practical-use polycrystalline silicon solar cell, with a rate of 18.6 percent. This represents an improvement of 0.6 percent over the company’s previous record.