JX Energy Enters Talks With First Solar for Solar Panel Sales

JX Nippon Oil and Energy Corp., Japan’s largest refiner, began talks with First Solar Inc. for a possible partnership to distribute the American solar panel makers’ products in Japan.

JX Energy is seeking exclusive sales rights for First Solar’s photovoltaic panels using technology developed by TetraSun, the company said in a statement.

First Solar said yesterday it is acquiring TetraSun, a startup based in San Jose, California, from JX Energy and other investors including TetraSun’s management. The move comes as Japan is expected to become the largest solar market after China this year, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Japan may add 6.1 gigawatts to 9.4 gigawatts, BNEF said in a research note on March 29.

JX Energy decided to sell its stake in TetraSun because of First Solar’s capability to mass-produce, said Hiroya Nishijima, a senior vice president of JX Energy.

“What we need is to start high-volume production as soon as possible and First Solar is the most capable and appropriate company to do that,” he said at a briefing in Tokyo.