Thursday, February 28, 2013

No. 75: Shakeout of solar battery material producers is in progress (March 1, 2013)

Business trend:
Japanese material producers are in the process of shrinking the solar battery business greatly due to the rapidly decreasing prices of Chinese products. Three Japanese companies including JX Nippon Mining & Metals decided to dissolve their joint venture in the silicon business and allocate extraordinary loss of about 13 billion yen. Chinese silicon producers participated in the Japanese domestic market in 2010 with low-priced products. The market price of silicon is 15 dollars per ton, less than one tenth of the price in 2008. The joint venture decided to withdraw from the business because it cannot work out solutions to recover the profitability. Tokuyama will also record net loss of 41 billion yen due to its stagnant silicon business in fiscal ending March 2013.

European Photovoltaic Industry Association reported that worldwide generation capacity of photovoltaic generation increased 40% over the previous year to exceed 1,000,000 kW at the end of 2012. The increased generation capacity is about 30 million kW that is equivalent to the generation capacity of 30 nuclear power plants. Worldwide production capacity of silicon is expected to become 450,000 tons due to the participation of Chinese producers, while demand for silicon remains at about 200,000 tons. As if often the case, lots of companies rush into profitable products to decrease the profitability drastically, and small- and medium-sized producers are wiped out from the market. Do not pursue economy of scale to compete with inexpensive products. Strenuous efforts to streamline production to reduce production cost are not rewarded. The only solution to recover profitability in the market dominated by inexpensive products is to increase the competitive edge and launch products that can be sold at higher prices.

 Worldwide capacity of photovoltaic generation is increasing quite rapidly

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No. 74: Solar battery shipments grow 1.9 times in 2012 (February 26, 2013)

Business trend:
Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association announced that domestic shipments of solar batteries grew 90% over the previous year to about 2,470,000 kW (generation capacity base) in 2012. Since the system that requires electric power companies to purchase power generated by renewable energy at a fixed price was enacted in July 2012, an increasing number of companies participated in the easily installable photovoltaic business. As a result, solar battery shipments for the nonresidential market grew 4.3 times to about 830,000 kW in 2012. Low-priced imported solar panels have been increasing the presence in the mega solar market. They grew three times to about 780,000 kW, accounting for 31.4% of total solar panel shipments for the mega solar market.

Power that is generated but cannot be consumed by residence is subject to purchase in the residence market. Shipments of solar batteries for the residence market increased 48% over the previous year to about 1,640,000 kW. For the period between October and December 2012, domestic shipments of solar batteries increased 2.5 times to over 1,000,000 KW. They increased 60% over the period between July and September 2012, showing that demand for solar battery increased at an accelerated pace after the introduction of the purchase system. Whereas solar batteries for residence grew 44% over the same period of the previous year, those for nonresidential purposes grew as much as seven times. 

Shipments of solar batteries are increasing remarkably

Sunday, February 10, 2013

No. 73: Photovoltaic generation on the rooftop of an apartment building (February 10, 2013)

Business trend:
Leopalace21, one of Japan’s leading rental housing companies, will start the photovoltaic generation business using the rooftops of its 7,000 apartment buildings with an investment of about 30 billion yen. The company plans to recover the investment with the income from power sales in 20 years. Total generation capacity is 100,000 kW. The company will establish a special-purpose company. With the approval from the apartment owners, the company starts to install solar panels on the rooftops beginning in April. The installation is scheduled to end by March 2014.

Each apartment owner gets 3% of the expected revenue from power sales calculated in advance on the basis of the area of the rooftop and the amount of sunshine. Leopalace21 plans to establish multiple special-purpose companies, in which it will invest 5% each. The total output 100,000 kW can satisfy power demand of 33,000 households. The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy told that the largest mega solar would be constructed in Hokkaido by Softbank, one of Japan’s leading mobile carriers, that has a capacity of 110,000 kW as of October 2012. The project launched by Leopalce21 is close to the Softbank’s project, though it is a decentralized system. 

Photovoltaic generation using the rooftop of 
an apartment building launched by Leopalace21