Sharp’s Solar Unit Returns to Profit on Performance in Japan

Sharp Corp.’s solar business returned to profit in the third quarter buoyed by demand for large-scale solar projects in Japan.

The unit had an operating profit of 5.9 billion yen ($59 million) in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with an operating loss of 1.9 billion yen in the same period a year ago, according to a statement from the Osaka-based company.

Revenue rose 94 percent to 108.5 billion yen, while sales volumes rose 67 percent to 459 megawatts.

Japan’s solar market is booming after the start of an incentive program for clean energy in July 2012 to diversify energy sources. The country is projected to add 9.3 gigawatts to 11.8 gigawatts this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Japan installed as much as 6.8 gigawatts last year. 1 gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts.

Sharp revised its forecast for the solar unit’s operating profit to 24 billion yen from 13 billion yen previously announced for the fiscal year ending March 31.

Sales of solar products are projected at 2.1 gigawatts, compared with an earlier estimate of 1.8 gigawatts during the same period. Revenue for the unit is expected to reach 430 billion yen from a previous estimate of 310 billion yen.

At the same time, Sharp has been scaling back solar panel manufacturing in the U.S. and Europe. The company said last month that it will stop panel production at its factory in Tennessee by the end of March. Sharp also said in December that it will end producing panels at its U.K. plant in Wales by the end of this month.

Sharp plans to expand sales in the Japanese non-residential market through strengthening design and sales activities, according to the statement.

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