Speculation mounts over Sharp’s action plan

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

The media frenzy over the precarious financial situation of one of Japan’s iconic corporate brands and a major PV module producer, Sharp Corporation has raged all week as an expected financial bailout led by Mizuho Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group loomed. On Thursday, September 27, Sharp issued a short statement confirming it had secured both immediate and near-term funding amounting to around US$4.6 billion.

However, media speculation had also focused on what Sharp was expected to announce in regards to restructuring its operations to initially gain the support from its banks and near-term policies to return to profitability.

A closer inspection of the mainstream media’s pure speculation centred on Sharp’s PV business operations, something that PV-Tech first brought to light back in mid-August.

Nothing new or revealing was found, though some had connected several obvious dots. These included the underperforming solar business both Sharp’s conventional c-Si business and its newer a-Si thin-film operations.

The dots were joined by speculating that Sharp would extend the announced consolidation of its PV manufacturing operations in Japan, by closing its module assembly plants in the UK and the US.

Anyone that has covered technology manufacturing sectors will know that Japanese firms have typically consolidated overseas operations before making similar-sized decisions in relation to domestic operations and therefore the thrust of reporting was historical in its speculation.

The dots were also connected in relation to Sharp’s thin film operations which also include the JV with Enel in Italy. The speculation was that Sharp would have to exit its manufacturing partnership and figure-out whether it should stay in the thin film market at all.

Yet again though, no actual real insight into what Sharp will actually do was revealed.

However, PV Tech became aware from several sources as well as from local media channels in Wrexham, UK, that Sharp had cut the number of manufacturing shifts at its c-Si module plant in the city with workers temporarily and permanently laid-off.

A single sentence response from Sharp over the developments at the plant, simply said that the company had no plans to close the plant down. Obviously, the statement didn’t address the issue of production being curtailed.

In the weeks that followed, discussions with some key UK-based installers revealed that few were finding installer customers requesting Sharp modules, a trend that had been growing over the last year due to the highly competitive pricing environment.

It was also noted by others in the UK market that Sharp was pushing its PV kits direct to installers, yet on a like-for-like basis showed little competitive advantage. A similar scenario was mentioned in relation to Panasonic, although the views express were more critical of Panasonic’s inability to compete on price. 

Interest in the European market could easily be waning for Sharp and Panasonic, more so due to competitive issues and the short-term needs and opportunities in selling their products in a domestic market that is set to boom.

Losing a little face in the UK and European markets would seem a better option than losing a lot of face in their own domestic market, should they not control sufficient market share over the coming few years.

What we do expect to be revealed by Sharp is a more detailed restructuring plan, especially now that the banks have approved emergency funding. How much that funding was based on Sharp delivering a convincing plan to the banks or whether the funds issue was more focused on other issues is unclear.

Until Sharp actually produces those plans for public consumption the speculation in the media will simply continue. Indeed, the impression has been from some media centres is that the speculation so far handed-out has been undertaken to push Sharp to reveal plans as soon as possible. This suggests we should not have to wait long?

22 September 2021
To commemorate the World Energy Storage Day(WESD) on 22 September, being recognized worldwide, Customized Energy Solutions (CES) and India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) is organising the 5th global conference and virtual expo, which will be held virtually on 22 September 2021. WESD is a global movement initiated by various apex trade bodies working to promote and adopt energy storage, e-mobility & green hydrogen technologies for a sustainable future. The forthcoming edition of WESD is expected to attract global participation with an intent to facilitate bi-lateral trade, market development and new research and innovation, which will invite 100+ countries, 100+ regulators & policy makers, 100+ International speakers,1000+ organisations, 100+ partners & exhibitors and 20,000+ global delegates.
28 September 2021
Solar Solutions International is the largest trade show for solar energy in Northwest Europe. Now the solar market has grown up, it's time for the next step. Solar Solutions International displays more than 500 innovations and over 100 practical seminars concerning the latest in energy storage, smart products, and an ever evolving array of solar panels. As an exclusively B2B trade show, Solar Solutions International offers both exhibitors and visitors the chance to network at the highest level. Duurzaam Verwarmd, the largest trade show for sustainable HVAC technology in the Benelux, is held simultaneously. This way your one visit gets you up to date with all of the developments in both sustainable energy and heating.
6 October 2021
Intersolar Europe is the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry. It takes place as part of The smarter E Europe – the continent’s largest platform for the energy industry. Under the motto “Connecting solar business,” manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers and project planners and developers from around the world meet in Munich every year to discuss the latest developments and trends, explore innovations firsthand and meet potential new customers.
6 October 2021
The future is bright for a new era of US solar and storage, and the 8th annual Solar & Storage Finance Summit will provide opportunities to discuss solutions to the industry’s challenges and provide a networking platform designed to bring together the top minds in the industry to do business. With a mix of high-level, informative presentations and panels, a stellar cast of speakers and audience members with deal-making capacity, the 2021 edition of the event will be a sell-out success.
18 October 2021
Intersolar South America, South America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry, takes place at the Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, Brazil on October 18–20, 2021, and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. At the accompanying Intersolar South America Conference, renowned experts shed light on hot topics in the solar industry.
19 October 2021
This year’s EV World Congress will hold a special role, not only as the first live EverythingEV event in over a year – a chance to renew your connections and re-engage with the EV sector face to face – but also as a chance to share insight and inspiration as world starts to look towards move on post COVID towards hitting ambitious decarbonisation goals in 2030 and beyond. As ever, we will be bringing world leading organisations, cities, and technology providers to the UK to inspire EV innovators, and delve into the challenges facing the sector as the UK looks to revolutionise road transport.

Read Next

September 17, 2021
BP, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Masdar have partnered up to develop low carbon hydrogen hubs and create decarbonised air travel corridors between the UK and UAE in a deal that will see “billions” of dollars of investment.
September 17, 2021
US utility company Dominion Energy Virginia has proposed 15 new energy projects totalling 1GW of power for the state, which Dominion Energy claimed was the largest group of projects to be submitted to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC)
September 17, 2021
Renewables developer Ørsted has promoted Neil O'Donovan to CEO of its onshore business unit following the resignation of his predecessor in August.
September 17, 2021
A 58.5MW floating PV plant in Thailand, said to be the largest install of its kind in the country, has been connected to the grid, according to inverter and floating solutions supplier Sungrow.
PV Tech Premium
September 17, 2021
PV Tech spoke to investors and analysts about why Brazil is fast becoming an attractive market for solar investment.
September 16, 2021
Vistra Energy has welcomed the enactment of clean energy policies in Illinois which the power generation company said will support 300MW of solar and 150MW of battery storage to be built at nine of its coal plant sites. 

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021