Increased domestic Japanese market demand and a maturing ‘asset lite’ manufacturing business model, led to Sharp Corporation’s solar PV business return to profitability in its third quarter financial year results.
Sharp’s solar business activities reported revenue of 108.5 billion yen (US$1.06 billion) in the FY third quarter, up 29.4% from the previous quarter when revenue reached 83.9 billion yen (US$827.8 million).
The significant sales increase as the Japanese PV market booms for residential, commercial and utility-scale markets has led to a major turnaround in fortunes for the previously loss-making unit.
The solar business made a profit of 5.9 billion yen (US$59 million) in the quarter as sales increased 94% compared to the same period a year ago.
Sharp has been following a major move to an ‘asset lite’ manufacturing business model in a bid to return to profitability and outsource at least 50% of component (wafer, cells, modules) requirements to reduce costs and become more agile in meeting demand cycles.
The company recently announced the closure of its overseas PV module assembly plants in the UK and US.
Sharp is also transitioning its solar business to become a PV project developer, which includes overseas projects and a shift in emphasis to complete energy solutions, according to the company.
Japan is expected to be the second largest market for the solar industry in 2013. Recent preliminary figures from NPD Solarbuzz put installations in China at 11.7GW for 2013.
Based on PV module shipment forecasts from major Japanese and other key suppliers, installations in Japan could top 7GW in 2013. However, a rush is on to complete gigawatts of projects before an expected change to the FiT mechanisms at the end of March, 2014.
Sharp had previously guided FY shipments to be in the range of 1.8GW.