Showa Shell Solar Unit Considering Production Plant in New York

Solar Frontier K.K., a unit of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., may build a manufacturing plant for solar panels in New York as part of the state’s efforts to become a leader in clean energy innovation and manufacturing.

Tokyo-based Solar Frontier and the State University of New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, known as CNSE, signed an agreement to explore building a Solar Frontier solar-panel plant in western New York and setting up the copmany’s North American headquarters at CNSE in Albany, CNSE said in a statement yesterday.

“Development and implementation of the initiative is projected to generate over $678 million in investments over 7 years,” CNSE said. “Solar Frontier anticipates the creation of 250 direct research, development, and manufacturing jobs, and 700-1000 indirect jobs from contractors and suppliers expected to locate in and around its New York facilities.”

Solar Frontier aims to start operations at the plant as early as 2017, the Nikkei newspaper reported today. Satoshi Yoshida, a spokesman for the company, said no decision has been made.

“Establishing overseas production bases is at the core of our mid-term growth plan,” Solar Frontier President Hiroto Tamai said in a separate statement today.

Solar Frontier, which has three manufacturing plants in the southern prefecture of Miyazaki, has the ability to annually make solar panels capable of producing 1 gigawatt of electricity.

The company is building its fourth plant in Miyagi prefecture in northern Japan, which is expected to be completed in 2015. The company makes panels using copper, indium, gallium and selenium, known as CIGS.