Sharp Solar to Manufacture Modules in US

Anticipating significant growth in the U.S. solar energy market, Sharp Electronics Corporation, the U.S. sales and marketing subsidiary of Sharp Corporation, Osaka, Japan, will establish a manufacturing facility for solar products in the United States.

Memphis, Tennessee – November 13, 2002 [] The new module fabrication facility will be constructed in an existing building at the Sharp Manufacturing Company of America (SMCA) manufacturing plant in Memphis, Tennessee, where production of a range of solar products for on-grid and off-grid markets in the U.S. will be produced beginning in the Spring of 2003. SMCA will assemble solar modules for residential, commercial and industrial installations. “Solar is at the core of Sharp’s next generation businesses and technologies,” said Shintaro Hashimoto, Corporate Director and Group General Manager of Sharp Corporation’s Solar Systems Group. “Sharp established a division to market solar products in the U.S. in May 2002 and will manufacture here because we believe the U.S. is ready to accept solar as an increasingly mainstream energy alternative.” Sharp is confident that several things it is doing will impact the growth of the US solar market despite a slowdown in the European market, according to Ron Kenedi, General Manager of the Solar Systems Division of Sharp Electronics Corporation. “A couple of things will have a big impact. First, we’re manufacturing in the United States – that’s a big step for Sharp,” Kenedi said. “Second is tying solar into everyday mainstream products. We’re starting to use the term mainstream – that is the goal, that is where everybody wants to go.” “Sharp brings an in-depth, customer-focused orientation to both product development and the marketing of solar energy that is unique to the industry. By Spring 2003, we will offer complete residential grid connected systems specifically designed for the U.S. market. This product launch will represent the first in a series of product offerings designed for the mainstream market, and we anticipate these products attracting large, new customer bases,” he said. By the end of the 2002 fiscal (March 2003), Sharp will have increased solar cell manufacturing capacity to 200 MW and is forecasting a 50 percent increase in net sales for the 2002 fiscal over the previous fiscal. T.C. Jones, Sharp’s vice president of Human Resources in Memphis said the module line will create 45 new jobs initially. Installation of the module fabrication equipment – to be supplied by an as yet, unknown company – will begin in January, according to Jones. Kenedi said Sharp is committed from the highest levels of the company to reducing the costs of solar, but wouldn’t speculate on the new facility’s effect on price. “We’re going to do our best as a company do to everything we possibly can to make this more affordable to mainstream customers,” Kenedi said. The Department of Energy reports that solar power costs have declined 200 percent in the last three decades with costs today ranging from 10 to 40 cents per kWh. “This downward trend offers tremendous opportunity to expand the use of solar energy in the US and help lessen dependence on foreign oil,” said Kenedi. Despite this downward trend and while confident of Sharp’s ability to succeed in the US, Kenedi emphasized the need for continue government involvement in the industry. “Every form of energy in this country is subsidized,” he said. “We will be able to stand on our own two feet soon, but we need it and we need it across the country.”
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