November 12, 2007 – Honda Soltec Co., a wholly owned solar cell subsidiary of Japanese auto firm Honda Motor Co., has opened a new solar cell production plant in Kumamoto Prefecture. Mass production began in mid-October, and is planned to reach full capacity of 27.5MW by next spring, enough to power ~9000 homes, according to the company.
The estimated 7B yen (US ~$63.3M) operation, which shares space with the parent company’s auto assembly operation, makes CIGS thin-film solar cells (copper-indium-gallium-selenium), consuming around 50% less energy during the manufacturing process than conventional crystal silicon solar cells, the company notes.
Sales have started through 80 distributors, with plans to increase to >200 in the next fiscal year, and expand outside Japan, notes the Nikkei daily. The firm’s solar power systems, capable of generating 3kw for homes, are priced around 2M yen ($~18,000).