Showa Shell to Restart Solar Panel Plant on Rising Japan Demand

Solar Frontier K.K., a unit of Japanese oil refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., will resume solar panel production at a plant in southwestern Japan on July 1 amid increasing demand and plans for new products.

The company suspended production at the end of last year at the facility in Miyazaki prefecture that can produce 60 megawatts of solar panels annually to consolidate manufacturing at a 900-megawatt plant, also in Miyazaki, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today.

Solar Frontier plans to make minor equipment changes at the 60-megawatt factory so that it can make new products to be sold in Japan, according to the statement.

The decision came as demand for panels is increasing in Japan and the company plans to introduce new products by the end of April, Nobuyuki Nakajima, a spokesman for Solar Frontier, said by phone today. He declined to elaborate.

The company makes CIGS solar panels -- thin-film units using copper, indium, gallium and selenium.