Monday, March 5, 2012

No. 453: Panasonic upgrades its solar battery to get better conversion efficiency (March 5, 2012)

Panasonic will launch a solar battery that has the world’s highest conversion efficiency toward 2013. At present, a generation element from SunPower of the U.S. has the world’s highest conversion efficiency in the level of 22%, and Panasonic is following SunPower with 21.6%. Higher conversion efficiency means higher generation per area. Panasonic has been trying to improve conversion efficiency of HIT originally developed by Sanyo. HIT has a structure made up of piled-up amorphous silicon and crystal silicon, and Panasonic will modify the structure and quality of a cell drastically to launch the next-generation HIT. Panasonic successfully increased conversion efficiency to 23.7% at the experimental stage and established the way to increase it to the level of 24%.

Solar battery manufacturers are mostly suffering from low profitability because of the growing price competition caused by glut. Panasonic, however, reportedly secured favorable balance because it focuses on high value-added products. It had about 20% share in the domestic market in 2010, and it supposedly ended with about 25% share in 2011. The company tries to increase its share to 35% in 2012 to become the largest solar battery manufacturer in Japan. Sharp is in hot pursuit of Panasonic because it reportedly increased conversion efficiency to 21.5%. The competition for higher performance and lower price of a solar battery in anticipation of the system to purchase renewable energy to be introduced coming July is intensifying.  

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