Sharp posts US$58 million loss for solar division: Katsuragi thin-film plant to ramp down

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Tough times across Sharp Corporation’s electronics sectors filtered down into its solar manufacturing arm in its first quarter sales for the current financial year. Overall, Sharp posted quarterly losses of ¥138.4 billion (US$1.76 billion) on net sales of ¥458.6 billion. Sales within its solar cells segment were down 18.2%, compared to the same period in the previous year at ¥41.9 billion (US$534 million), generating an operating loss of ¥6.9 billion (US$57.5 million).

Sharp said that module sales prices overseas continued to decline in the quarter as competition intensified on weak demand. However, sales remained strong, especially in the residential markets.

Renewed focus on the Japanese market was reiterated by management, which plans to increase module sales to the residential market as well as be a key player in PV power plant projects within the country. The company also reiterated that it would be developing solar energy peripheral systems such as HEMS, storage batteries and power conditioners. 

Solar restructuring

However, significant losses, due to weakness in its core LCD business, have forced the company to undertake major restructuring. Its Solar Systems Group will be merged into its Health and Environmental Systems Group and renamed the Health, Environment and Energy Solutions Group.

Administration and headquarter functions of its Solar System Group, which currently operate out of its Katsuragi solar plant, are to be relocated to its advanced LCD and solar production site in Sakai, Osaka. 

The 160MW a-Si thin-film-based Katsuragi solar plant will also scale-down operations going forward. The plant started production in 2005 and the company has two other advanced plants in Japan and Sicily.

Overall, Sharp said it would be reducing its workforce by approximately 5,000, from the present 57,000 employees.

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