Solar Frontier, a subsidiary of Showa ShellSekiyu, successfully increased the generation efficiency of a CIS film solar cell to 17.2% with a small panel in the joint research with NEDO. Showa Shell plans to start the commercial production of the new solar cells toward late 2012 with an annual production capacity of 900,000 tons. The real efficiency of the new solar cell module will be 13-14%, one percent higher than the prevailing efficiency of a solar cell module using CIS solar cells.
Currently, the CIS
solar cell has a generation efficiency of 12.2%, 1-3% lower than the crystal
silicon solar cell widespread in the market. Unlike the crystal silicon solar
cell, the CIS film solar cell is not affected by the fluctuations of silicon
prices and able to generate electricity even if part of the panel is covered by
a shadow and even in cloudy days. The point was that it is 1-3% lower in
generation capacity than the crystal silicon solar cell. In Japan, the system
to purchase renewable energy at fixed prices will start with fiscal 2012, and
large-scale mega solar generation plants are scheduled to be built across the
country. The fierce competition with Chinese solar cell makers combined with
high yen deteriorates Showa Shell’s solar cell business. The company plans to
increase its share with the new solar cells and build joint production in
foreign countries after the mass production gets off the ground to avoid the
risk due to high yen.