Sharp Solar Opens First U.S. Facility

Sharp Solar officially opened its first solar panel manufacturing facility outside of Japan in Memphis, Tennessee. The factory in Memphis, based at Sharp Manufacturing Company of America, is assembling 165-, 167- and 185-watt solar panels for residential and commercial installations. Current annual production capacity is 20 MW, with room to expand production in response to growing demand.

Memphis, Tennessee – October 17, 2003 [] Sharp Solar said the U.S. market for solar energy was 48 MW in 2002 and is expected to climb to over 120 MW by 2005 and 300 MW by 2010. The U.S. is currently the world’s third largest producer of solar energy. Using mono- and poly-crystalline solar cells produced by Sharp in Japan and glass frames, backing and other materials made in the U.S., the new facility assembles solar panels of various configurations. Panels from the first five months of production are being used in California, New York, and New Jerse,y among other states. Sharp is marking the occasion of its solar plant opening by contributing two solar-powered city guide bulletin boards to the city of Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee. One board will be erected at the Tennessee Visitor Center located in downtown Memphis near the Mississippi River, and the other at the Memphis Zoo. The bulletin boards will highlight tourist sites and local events. “Solar is one of Sharp’s global, strategic priorities and reinforces our commitment to create new markets by addressing people’s needs through one-of-a-kind products,” said Toshishige Hamano, Corporate Senior Executive Director and Group General Manager International Business Group of Sharp Corporation. “Amid increasing environmental concerns, the clean, renewable energy provided by solar technology holds much promise for the future. With our accumulated knowledge and experience in the energy creation industry, Sharp is uniquely positioned to expand the market for solar in the U.S. and elsewhere just as we have done in Japan,” he said. In 2002, Sharp accounted for 22 percent of the total global demand of 560 MW of solar energy, thereby holding the world’s leading position for the third consecutive year, said the company. Effective next month, Sharp will increase its annual worldwide production capacity to 248MW as a result of the expansion of its Shinjo Plant in Japan. Sixty-seven people are directly employed in Sharp’s solar manufacturing operations in Memphis. Additional jobs could be created in response to anticipated market expansion. “Our Memphis location enables Sharp to better serve customers on both coasts. This is especially important to the East Coast markets that are experiencing significant growth in the use of solar energy,” said Ron Kenedi, General Manager of Sharp Electronics’ Solar Systems Division. According to Kenedi, it’s also significant that Sharp is producing solar products at the Memphis plant alongside its popular microwave ovens. “This is symbolic of Sharp’s commitment to make solar a mainstream energy alternative,” he said. “This is a proud moment and an important milestone for the solar industry in the U.S.,” said Glenn Hamer, Executive Director of the Solar Electric Industries Association. “The decision by a market leader like Sharp Corporation to invest in a manufacturing plant in Memphis, Tennessee is clearly a strong vote of confidence in the U.S. solar market, currently the fastest-growing solar market in the world. Clean, quiet solar energy is destined to become an increasingly important source of power in the lives of our children and grandchildren, and the leadership of companies like Sharp will help to make that happen sooner.”
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