Solar Frontier Begins Commercial Production At Tohoku Plant

Solar Frontier Begins Commercial Production at Tohoku PlantSolar Frontier KK (Minato-ku, Tokyo) announced June 1, 2016, that it has started commercial production at its Tohoku Plant.
The Tohoku Plant is a solar panel manufacturing plant that was built in Ohira-mura, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, and has a capacity of 150MW per year. It is the company's fourth production base, and CIS-based solar panels are manufactured at the plant. Pilot production started in April 2015.

Solar Frontier's main factory is the Kunitomi Plant (Kunitomi-cho, Miyazaki Prefecture), whose capacity is 900MW per year. The Tohoku Plant has a smaller capacity, but the company drastically improved cost competitiveness at the plant by introducing state-of-the-art technologies, planning to use it as a model factory for future overseas production bases.

The investment (per megawatt) in the Tohoku Plant is about 2/3 that in the Kunitomi Plant. And Solar Frontier introduced higher-productivity volume production technologies to the plant. At its new production lines, the number of employees necessary for manufacturing 1MW of panels was reduced to about 2/3, and production time was reduced to about 1/3.

Conventionally, two electrodes are formed on the two sides of Solar Frontier's solar panels. However, for the panels manufactured at the new plant, the company added one more electrode (center lead) on the central area, increasing the total number of electrodes to three.

As a result, the number of cells (power-generating elements) connected in series was halved from 220 to 110, lowering rated voltage. The lowered rated voltage reduces the number of parallel connection circuits for panels at the time of building a power plant, lowering the cost of wiring work.

Solar Frontier will start to accept orders for solar panels manufactured at the new plant only from customers in Miyagi Prefecture in the summer of 2016, planning to expand the area in the future. The company aims at a capacity of 180W per panel in full-capacity operation by continuously making efforts to improve panel output.