Sanyo Expected to Announce Big Solar Investment Next Week

Sanyo Electric is expected to announce a big investment in solar cell production next week.

The company, which is in the process of being acquired by Panasonic, said it will disclose details of an increase in production at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday morning.

It didn't offer any more details but a report in the Tuesday morning edition of The Nikkei newspaper said Sanyo plans to spend more then ¥10 billion (US$109 million) to build a new solar cell plant in western Japan. The factory is expected to come online in 2010 and have a capacity of 620 megawatts per year, the report said.

Sanyo also plans to jointly build a thin-film solar cell factory with Nippon Oil that will come online in 2010 with a capacity of 80 megawatts per year, the newspaper said.

Sanyo is currently Japan's number two solar cell maker behind Sharp and its leading position in the market was one of the reasons Panasonic went after the company. Panasonic has said that it intends to build-up its own solar and battery technology divisions with the acquisition of Sanyo and its know-how.

Last year Sharp said it plans to more than double production of solar cells by 2010 and take output from 710 megawatts to around 1.7 gigawatts per year.

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