Sharp Solar Manufacturing Headed for the UK

Less than a month after opening their first solar manufacturing plant in the U.S., Sharp Solar announced that its first European photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturing operation will be located in Wales. The Sharp factory in Llay will start PV module production this year, with an initial manufacturing capacity of 20 MW per year.

Huntington Beach, California – October 31, 2003 [] Also announced was that UK-based Solarcentury has secured a product-development and distribution alliance with Sharp, and will be Sharp’s preferred supplier in the UK. The Sharp factory in Wrexham will start PV module production in 2003, with products destined for the UK domestic and European solar markets. “In the 18 months since the introduction of the government’s ý20 million Major Demonstration Program, more and more people and institutions are realizing the unique value offered by solar PV,” said Jeremy Leggett, CEO, solarcentury. “Our aim as an independent knowledge company is to innovate at the cutting edge of the coming solar business revolution with carefully chosen partners manufacturing a range of cell technologies.” Solarcentury is already close to completing the UK’s largest solar installation using Sharp modules. The London-based solar energy solutions company has also begun a program of joint product development with Sharp for the construction industry, marrying its knowledge of the PV end-users with Sharp’s renowned manufacturing skills. “Sharp is expecting to contribute for the expansion of PV demand in UK with our new manufacturing site at Wrexham and our strong business relationship with Solar Century,” said Hiroshi Sasaoka, Chairman of Sharp UK. Sharp expects the development will create 45 jobs in 2004, increasing to 90 in 2005. While the initial yearly manufacturing capacity will be 20 MW in 2004, Sharp projected manufacturing to increase to 35 MW by 2005. This output will help support increases in the use of solar modules in the UK and throughout Europe. Welsh Minister for Economic Development and Transport Andrew Davies welcomed the news. “Today’s announcement by Sharp is another important first for Wales, and will help to establish us as a global showcase for clean energy development, in addition to creating a number of much needed job opportunities,” Davies said. “The Assembly Government, along with it’s partners, has worked hard to assist Sharp to bring a new product to Wrexham,” Davies said. Wales is already the center of the PV industry in the UK, and along with the rest of the UK, has a strong capability in PV research and development. This sector is expected to increase in line with UK Government commitment to PV.” The UK’s Energy Minister, Stephen Timms also welcomed the news, “It’s great news that Sharp Solar – the world’s largest photovoltaic company, has chosen Wrexham as the site for its first European production facility. This is a strong vote of confidence in the fast growing solar energy market in the UK and also in the skilled workforce at Wrexham.”
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