Sharp’s Solar Unit Posts Profit on Rooftop, Large-Scale Demand

Sharp Corp.’s solar business returned to profit in the first quarter, buoyed by demand for panels used on residential rooftops and in large-scale plants.

Operating profit at the electronics maker’s solar unit was 6.8 billion yen ($69 million) in the three months ended June 30 compared with a 6.9 billion yen loss for the same period last year, the Osaka-based company said in a filing today.

Sales doubled to 84.3 billion yen from 41.9 billion yen, Sharp said. The company attributed the jump to growth in the domestic residential market and utility-scale projects.

Japan’s solar market is expanding after the country introduced an incentive program a year ago for clean energy to diversify its energy mix after the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

Sharp raised its profit outlook for the division to 13 billion yen for the year ending March 31 from 6 billion yen forecast in May. The sales outlook was raised to 310 billion yen for 1,800 megawatts of solar products, compared with the earlier forecast of 280 billion yen for 1,600 megawatts.

The profit at Sharp’s solar business is the second in a row. The business had an operating profit of 9.7 billion yen in the three months to March 31, its first after eight quarters of losses, company data showed. Sales for that period totaled 110.8 billion yen.

Japan added 1,559 megawatts of solar capacity in the eleven months through the end of February, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The nation will become the world’s largest solar market this year with 6.9 gigawatts to 9.4 gigawatts, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in June. One gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts.

Sharp, Japan’s largest maker of liquid-crystal displays, said in February that it’s working to “accelerate business restructuring” by scaling back its thin-film solar panel manufacturing and its operations in the U.S. and Europe.

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