Honda to Mass Produce Next-Generation Thin Film Solar Cell

One of the world’s top car companies, the Honda Motor Co. has become the first car company to enter into the solar photovoltaic (PV) market. This week, the company announced its plan to begin mass production in 2007 of an independently developed thin film solar cell composed of non-silicon compound materials.

A 12,000 square meter mass production plant with annual capacity of 27.5 MW will be established at Honda’s Kumamoto factory and will be operational in latter half of 2007. Honda will produce and sell solar panels in a limited area, starting from 2006 fall, using assembly line within Honda Engineering Co., Ltd., the production engineering subsidiary of Honda. By using thin film made from a compound of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS), Honda’s next-generation solar cell achieved a major reduction in energy consumed during the manufacturing process to approximately 50 percent of the amount required by conventional crystal silicon solar cells. Thus, this new solar cell is more environmentally friendly by reducing the amount of CO2 even from the production stage. Further, Honda says this next-generation solar cell has achieved the highest level of photoelectric transfer efficiency for a thin film solar cell (almost equivalent to the conventional crystal silicon solar cell). Since spring 2002, Honda has been using and monitoring the performance of this solar cell, first at the Outboard Engine Plant in Hosoe, and then also at 12 other Honda facilities including Honda Engineering headquarters and the Honda Wako Building in Japan and 3 overseas sites such as the U.S. and Thailand. The only remaining challenges were the stabilization of performance and development of mass production technologies. The mass production of Honda’s next-generation solar cell became possible with a new mass production process for thin film solar cells developed independently by Honda Engineering – a production engineering company that has long developed production equipment and technologies for Honda’s motorcycle, automobile, engine, electric motor for hybrid vehicles and other items. In addition to its effort to lower environmental load through achieving reduced emissions and higher fuel efficiency, as the first automaker to enter into solar cell business, Honda will contribute to the effort to prevent global warming through production and sales of a clean energy source, which does not use fossil fuels. In its vision for 2010, Honda has committed itself to take on new challenges in new areas and to develop environmentally friendly and sustainable energy technologies.
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