Sharp Has Loss at Energy Business as Solar Boom Falters

Sharp Corp. posted a loss at its energy business in the first quarter as sales dropped by almost half, a sign Japan’s renewable energy boom is faltering.

The operating loss was 3.9 billion yen ($31 million) in the three months ended June 30, compared with profit of 100 million yen a year ago, Osaka-based Sharp said in a statement.

Sales at the unit, previously known as the solar cells product group, fell by almost half. The decline was the biggest during the quarter at any of Sharp’s business units and comes as Japan’s growth in its once-booming solar market slows.

Sales fell in both residential and industrial solar in Japan, the company said in presentation material. The sale of a U.S. unit also contributed to the decline, it said.

Sharp has been reorganizing its solar business to focus on its home market.

Earlier this year, Sharp sold Recurrent Energy LLC, a San-Francisco-based solar development unit to Canadian Solar Inc. for $265 million.

Sharp last year withdrew from an Italian solar venture -- the company’s last overseas panel manufacturing plant -- shortly after announcing that it would give up its half share of a separate undertaking with Enel Green Power to develop solar projects.

Sharp, which has been developing solar panels since 1959, stopped making panels at plants in the U.S. and U.K. earlier last year.

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