Solar Frontier appoints new chief executive and vice presidents

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Japanese thin-film solar company Solar Frontier has announced a number of changes to its senior management team which it says will aid the company’s expansion plans domestically and elsewhere.

Solar Frontier, a 100% owned subsidiary of oil company Showa Shell, has promoted Atushiko Hirano to president and chief executive officer. Hirano was previously executive vice president of the company. According to Solar Frontier, Hirano has been with the company since commercial operations began with its first 20MW plant. His new role will see him take responsibility for strategy and operations.

Speaking to PV Tech at the Intersolar Europe show in June, Hirano said that Solar Frontier continued to believe that thin-film could play an important role in the world PV market and highlighted that the company’s new module factory in Japan would be used as a blueprint for testing new, more economical production processes.

“We have been proving to the world that thin-film continues to have a very strong potential in improving efficiency and also the production cost.

“It will be [up to] the market to decide to what extent they want to use thin-film but we still have very strong confidence that with this sufficient or large potential in both efficiency improvement and cost reduction that thin-film, especially our CIS, will be gaining more and more share in the marketplace.”

Hirano said that in order to meet that expected demand, strategic choices such as trialling cheaper and more efficient production processes at its new 150MW capacity factory were necessary.

Three members of the senior management team were promoted to the position of senior vice president of Solar Frontier. Among the three is chief technology officer Satoru Kuriyagawa who will remain in charge of technology and productions in his new role. Kuriyagawa will also be involved in the company’s global expansion plans going forward. Satoru Kuriyagawa has overseen technological developments including the development of a CIS solar cell with a verified conversion efficiency of 20.9%, announced in April.

Also promoted to the role were Tomoaki Ito, who the company says has worked across several divisions of the company; and Judy Lee, who has previously served as a consultant to Solar Frontier.

The appointments require approval from the boards of Solar Frontier and its parent company, expected by 31 July. The announcements have been made ahead of the PV Japan trade exhibition and show, taking place this week from 30 July to 1 August in Tokyo.

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